April 08, 2010

National Guilt

Note: this is unedited, raw from the top of my sleep-addled mind... caveat lector

Moving to Texas was a real shock to my system. Really, for any number of reasons, but primarily due to the change in social context. You see, I'm a Yankee... and with the exception of my brief stopover in Longview (6 1/2 years in exile), I've never lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line. And, perhaps more tellingly, my education up until that point had all been carried out in states with a very clear view of who was Right and who was Wrong as regards the US Civil War. So you could imagine my surprise when I arrived in Texas and there were people running around with Confederate Battle Flags all over the freaking place.

I don't know that the shock of seeing that really ever wore off... because where I came from, that thing was about one step short of a Swastika... and I can see the justification.

Yes, yes, I know... "the Confederacy stood for a lot more than pure inbred, racist slave abuse... the North's hands were dirty also..." I'm aware of the arguments. And really, it's not an apt comparison, but it's the closest I can get.

Of course, that got me to wondering: What did the heirs of other defeated causes do? I mean, it's not like the Germans and the South were the only two groups with some rather appalling moral baggage attached to them who lost a war. What about Imperialist Japan? South Africa?

And of course, that leads to still further scratching, because it's not like people going to war in the name of absolutely morally reprehensible causes is a new thing. I mean, look at the freaking Crusades: "we're going to kill the current occupants of Israel because Jesus used to live there... never-mind that was 1000 years ago and he lived there during an occupation by a pagan empire... we want it now!" Not to mention the whole business of the Fourth Crusade where they somehow managed to sack Constantinople.

But at the same time, almost nobody is really wringing their hands about the Crusades or the Terror of the French Revolution or the injustices perpetuated by Bloody Mary. Is there a Statute of Limitations on National Guilt? And what is it that drives countries like Germany to be inhibited to such an extent to where they actually limit free speech as regards their national guilt and ban the imagery of the bygone institution, whereas in the US, certain elements celebrate it? Actually, this sounds like it would be a great deal of fun as a study in Sociology. I mean, Historiography of "Revisionism" notwithstanding, how do people overshadowed by this sort of thing react and why is it so different from place to place?

But so far as the notion of national guilt is concerned, I take no shame in cribbing these remarks of Richard von Weizsacker, President of West Germany as perhaps the most productive I've ever seen:

We need and we have the strength to look truth straight in the eye–without embellishment and without distortion. ... The greater honesty we show in commemorating this day, the freer we are to face the consequences with due responsibility. …

There is no such thing as the guilt or innocence of an entire nation. Guilt is, like innocence, not collective, but personal. … The vast majority of today's population were either children then or had not been born. They cannot profess a guilt of their own for crimes that they did not commit. No discerning person can expect them to wear a penitential robe simply because they are Germans. But their forefathers have left them a grave legacy. All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it.

I really have to agree that there is no such thing as a national guilt, but only individual guilt. And what's more, it's probably a good and honorable thing to acknowledge the sacrifices made by the grunts in the trenches in the name of God and Country, regardless of the nobility of the cause that God and Country called them to. I mean, after all, there is the alternative of something like Vietnam where, to all appearances, the cause itself wasn't particularly good or noble... and look at what a failure to honor those who suffered and died did to this country.

But at the same time, I think the Germans have a point in their banning of the symbolism and paraphernalia of Nazism... because there IS a difference between honoring the sacrifice of the men and women who tried to do their duty, between honoring those who did the best they could with what they knew and believed in their hearts at the time and with glorifying institutions like the Confederacy which, in the words of Ulysses S Grant, fought for a cause which was "one of the worst for which a people ever fought.”

And I just noticed the date that he gave them: May 8, 1985 ... the 40 year anniversary of the surrender Nazi Germany. Which, unbeknownst to me, means that I was married on the 60th anniversary of that rather auspicious day. Not sure what to make of that... but there it is. And I suppose I should note that the nutjob Governor of Virginia set this whole conflagration off, but I don't really think he deserves credit for anything other than returning these notions to the fore of my mind.

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March 24, 2010

Trying to Be the Shepherd

The notion that I'm going to be a parent inside of the next 24 hours is truly terrifying. The introspection that it's given rise to is perhaps moreso.

For better or worse, I'm probably not the best reflection of the upbringing and education that I had to work with. I'm lazy, disorganized to a fault and generally the only way to get me to do something to the best of my abilities is to have someone else relying on it. Of course, this makes me at least passing decent at my job, but only because there are 4-6 people reporting to me and another 2 or 3 dozen to whom my work has some sort of impact. If it's just me, myself and I, I don't do such a hot job. Really, I'm a lot like Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities - I can muster almost limitless effort on the behalf of those I care about but only marginal effort on my own behalf.

And now, it's me and Anna... and even there, I'm certainly not taking care of myself like I should in order to be around in 20 years. Not that Anna needs me to take care of her, but I have a responsibility to her and now to our daughter and I'm nowhere near likely to be able to carry it out if I don't change something. I mean, let's face facts: I'm morbidly obese, a Type 2 Diabetic who takes bad care of himself, I guzzle Coke Zero like it's my job, I haven't seen the doctor in at least 6 months... hell, I can't even take care of my teeth very well. And now there's going to be a little person relying on me to get my act together in order to provide for her.

And that's where things get interesting... because it's not just the provide for her part. I mean, while I have an intellectual grasp of personal finance, this whole inability to set my actions to the march that my rational mind dictates isn't exactly a new theme... but I can usually fake my way to better finance through stumbling along the path of career development. No, the truly scary part is that there's going to be a little person doing some significant modeling of who she's going to be based off of who I am. And I can't honestly say that I'm a huge fan of who I am a great deal of the time. I wouldn't exactly put me forward as a role model... much less a freaking parent and basis for understanding reality.

Have kids with more screwed up parents than me lived and survived? Certainly... but I'd like to hope that my kid would have parents a benefit to personality development rather than an obstacle to overcome... and I suppose that's where Anna comes in. On two fronts, really: as a far better role model than I could ever hope to be and as a mitigating factor for my own behavior.

Because, let's face it... and people who have known me before and after the initial impact of Anna on my personality (and on-going sanding off of my rougher edges) can attest that pre-Anna, I was a real piece of work. Still am, really, but nowhere near to the extent that I was prior to that. So something's going to have to give, but for now, I think I'm done with this self-flagellation... so, telling though this is, I'm going to go ahead and quote Jules from Pulp Fiction in closing with the notion that I feel it to be at least somewhat autobiographical:

Maybe it means: you're the evil man, and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9mm here, he's the Shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the Valley of Darkness. Or, it could mean: you're the righteous man, and I'm the Shepherd, and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that, but that shit ain't the truth. The truth is: you're the weak, and I am the tyranny of evil men. But, I'm tryin', Ringo, I'm trying real hard to be the Shepherd.
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March 18, 2009


See, unlike most of the incensed public and the politicians, I can see both sides of this issue. But before we get to all of that, for every time you hear a politician say "this is so terrible", tell him (or her) to shut up. Why are the politicians wringing their hands? Because you're angry.* Oh, and they don't want you to remember that they're the morons who took money from AIG to void the very laws that prevented the INSANELY, UNIMAGINABLY, IRREVOCABLY STUPID practices that left AIG in this mess right now.

So, after you tell your worthless shill of a politician to shut his fat pie-hole, what then? Well, first off, you should probably not send death threats to AIG, as much as you might like to emulate Iowa's Senator Chuck Grassley in suggesting that the current crop of AIG execs kill themselves.**

Second, think about the actual employees at AIG, not the managers. And think about people like me, who were given a sheet of paper telling them "this is the money you're going to make next year" and then had it ripped from their hands and told "yeah, that was a lie." Do you really want to be encouraging a situation where the government can excuse employers from paying contractually agreed-upon raises, bonuses and other financial rewards. "But it's millions of dollars paid to a select few people," you say. It's the principle that's the thing, you twit. Because somewhere at AIG, some dumb schmuck is having $2000 ripped out of his hands to make happy some now-insane potential voter who's been watching 24-hour news since he got laid off three months ago.*** And that guy should get his raise, because he's the one who actually made the profitable divisions worth having and he's not gotten a damned bit of credit.

*And justifiably so... I find it rather peculiar that the employees whose decisions rendered AIG into its current model as a prosaic beacon of idiocy merit millions of dollars in retention policies. Had I any say in the matter at all, those people would be fired before they had a chance to contemplate negotiatating being retained. I should figure out a way to negotiate a retention contract for myself.

**And if you don't, what in the world are you doing reading my blog? Seriously,before you even began reading this, you knew good and well that's the sort of sentiment I would espouse. In fact, had I the money, I'd send some ceremonial suicide swords to AIG's Executive Offices and careful instructions on how to kill one's self with maximum face-saving effectiveness.

***Was he insane before-hand? Who knows. All I know is that if he's been watching 24-hour Cable News round-the-clock for the last three months, he's go the IQ of a rabid chipmunk coming down off an all-day bender of huffing paint-thinner

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March 08, 2009

Failure to Suspend Disbelief

One of the curses of getting older, wiser, more mature and better educated (well, hopefully I'm doing at least most of these things) should be the outgrowth of one's critical thinking skills. This is all well and good, and a laudable outcome... but it presents one with certain problems. The largest of these, at least in this time in civilization, is the inability to watch major motion pictures.

Movie producers and writers are cheap and lazy. They are, for instance, unwilling to go to any sort of effort to maintain internal consistency within a movie because that's hard, expensive and represents time and cost that, frankly, would be wasted most of their viewing audience. And this isn't even going after complying with the known laws of physics and principles of "How The World Works."

One could nit-pick just about any movie on the minutia of adherence to laws of physics, realistic nature of explosions and internal consistency on minute things like inexplicable maintenance of the Female Lead's flawless hair through numerous explosions, but we'll leave that alone for a minute. I'm talking real inconsistencies that cause plot turns that have no explanation to the point that it jars my immersion.

For instance, take the movie Wanted. Yes, I know, not a great choice, but it happens to have the benefit of being the movie that I watched to drive this discussion. So Morgan Freeman happens to be a "prophet" of sorts with a "magical loom" which tells him who needs to die to keep the universe in balance by virtue of kicking out mystical scarfs or something that signify who needs to die. The protagonist discovers he's abandoned the magical loom's direction which has guided the Society of Assasin Weavers (not making this up, I promise) for thousands of years and has turned the Society into a kill-for-hire outfit as opposed to what essentially amounts to Fate's Pruning Shears that they are intended to be. That's right, Morgan Freeman is making his own scarves (or something) to thwart the will of Fate via this magical loom, and we're not even to the inconsistent part yet.

Anyways, by a series of twists and turns, Freeman gives out assignments (with the interpreted magical counterfeit sweater attached) which are of his own determining rather than those dictated by the Omniscient Loom. Things eventually come to a head when the protagonist somehow comes by a quilted kill order kicked out by the Loom that indicates that Morgan Freeman must die (incidentally, Morgan Freeman plays a surprisingly good villain; much better than you'd expect.) And yeah, we're just now getting to where things get hinky. I think it's a tribute to my willingness to play along that we're 90 minutes in and I'm still watching. And to think, sometimes people accuse me of not being a good sport.

Anyways, so the protagonist (James McAvoy) storms the Quilting Bee where all of these assassins live and confronts Freeman with the Sweater of Justice that says Freeman must die. At this point Freeman pulls out quilts and doilies and crochet pillows that say that the Loom has damned all of the rest of the assassins to death and that he's saving them. And at this point, Angelina Jolie, ignoring the fact that Freeman has been forging sweaters this whole time, kills herself and all of the other assassins on the say-so of these suspect sweaters.

Yeah, I know, it's all screwed up. But my point is, if Freeman is suspect and has already demonstrably forged the kill orders in the past, why are you killing yourself on his say-so? Actually, there are a whole lot of other questions that come to mind, but at least from where I sit, I'm not killing myself regardless of who says so, especially not if it's some freaking throw-rug.

Also, for a little bit of a rant, this is why the viewing public hates the Oscars. Because if this pile of crap made $341 million and Milk made $36 million and can't even get showings in many markets. If the viewing public would rather spend more money on Wanted than several Oscar best picture nominees combined, well, that pretty well sums up the problem.

Apparently critical thinking is a bigger problem than I thought it was.

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September 24, 2008

For Whom To Vote

I've been mentally grinding on a post about the economy, but I think I'll wait on that for a bit. This just seems more pressing, if not more immediate.

What if there were a presidential candidate who was perfect in every way, save one? He* would be perfectly versed in constitutional law, a decorated general, availed of a vast and successful executive and legislative experience. He's smart, he's funny, his policies are well-considered and air-tight and they all dovetail perfectly with your own policies. One problem: in order to extend his life, he elects to eat one innocent child a year.

Obviously this is the extension of the traditional Machiavellian conundrum. But I think it begs an important question: "What flaws in an otherwise-perfect candidate render him (or her, I guess) unelectable?" And make no mistake about it, this IS a Machiavellian equation. Because in the end, so long as someone is going to be elected, there will be flaws in that person and places where he disagrees with your own political philosophy. Positions that you hold distasteful to be sure and, increasingly of late, positions that one finds unethical, immoral and simply untenable.

For example, let's take the traditional Christian Conservative issue d'jour: abortion. On a personal choice level, the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates of both major party have claimed (or have had claims made on their behalf) to be Pro-Life... so I guess that's easy. And on a matter of policy, while McCain's Pro-Life chops are certainly questionable in comparsion to other conservatives, Obama is (somewhat evasively) Pro-Choice, so I suppose this ethical issue is fairly open and closed.

But what happens when, as is the case with... say... gun control, both candidates publicly support the same stance and privately support different stances. Obviously, there is the question as to whether or not the candidate whose personal views contradict (or at least, do not synch) with his public views will actually uphold the stance that he espouses for public policy or whether he will turn to his personal practice. On the other hand, let's suppose for the sake of argument that two candidates both agree upon a point of public policy and yet one holds a contradictory view in his personal life... should that matter? In the end, the policy will be the same... and yet, his personal life is an affront to that policy. Accusations of pandering fly and vitriolic rants about "moral responsibility" and character begin to be flung around by single-issue groups at the fringe.

For me, this whole exercise is particularly puzzling insofar as it is one of moral shades-of-grey, even for those whose morality is always in black and white. And yet, it seems to me that political advocates belonging to any given group of moral absolutists (Christian Conservatives included) do their friends and members a disservice by failing to note the obvious moral shortcomings and compromises requisite in the game of politics. Perhaps, it is, as the Wizard notes in Wicked's Oz, "There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities" and moral absolutists are, almost to a man, representative of this.

To attempt to render all of politics into simple absolutes is both foolhardy and myopic and in the end serves to muddy the waters. Moreover, it contradicts the basic Biblical truths that emphasize the sinful and imperfect nature both of mankind and of the world in which we live. While it's certainly not easy, for Christians to fail at understanding and evaluating the moral tightrope which their politicians walk and failure to make educated decisions based upon that educated viewpoint means that this demographic will continue to be mistreated and poorly served by candidates such as George W. Bush who misuse their morality in a cynical and manipulative ploy to serve their own unethical and immoral agendas.

*Obviously a female presidential candidate falls short of perfection. Obviously.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:25 PM | TrackBack

September 21, 2008

The Moral Majority

For a long time, I could not conceive of voting for any other party but the Republican party. The logic goes something like this: From the theological perspective that I was raised with (and still believe in), abortion is murder because life begins at conception. If one holds to that theological vantage and one's logic begins with that premise, no other political issue* held the same weight as abortion, and thus voting for a non-ProLife candidate (relatively minor issues for rape and incest aside) was an impossibility.

Either as an artifice of maturing and becoming more educated or because of the current regime (but more likely owing to both), I have come upon a problematic series of counterarguments to my original stance. Namely: there are other issues of the sanctity of human life that have nothing to do with abortion that the current regime seems relatively willing to ignore at best.

A friend of mine sent me news a while back of a disturbing commentary by a presidential candidate on the recent SCOTUS decision regarding habeas corpus.

Allow me to quote an excerpt:

The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country. Sen. Graham and Sen. Lieberman and I had worked very hard to make sure that we didn't torture any prisoners, that we didn't mistreat them, that we abided by the Geneva Conventions, which applies to all prisoners. But we also made it perfectly clear, and I won't go through all the legislation we passed, and the prohibition against torture, but we made it very clear that these are enemy combatants, these are people who are not citizens, they do not and never have been given the rights that citizens of this country have. And my friends there are some bad people down there. There are some bad people. So now what are we going to do. We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called, quote, Habeas Corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material. And we are going to be bollixed up in a way that is terribly unfortunate, because we need to go ahead and adjudicate these cases. By the way, 30 of the people who have already been released from Guantanamo Bay have already tried to attack America again, one of them just a couple weeks ago, a suicide bomber in Iraq. Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation, and the men and women who defend it. This decision will harm our ability to do that.

If there is ever a time where someone argues that the basic fundamental rights which all Americans are granted, such as the right to a speedy and fair trial by an impartial jury... if it is ever argued that those rights should not be extended to non-Americans and that those rights are too good for any subset of people, even suspects at Gitmo, I will have a very hard time voting for that person. Simply put, now I have to balance the lives of the accused against the lives of the unborn... and I would have thought that McCain in particular and the GOP in general wouldn't have surrendered the moral high ground so easily. And for so little reason.

*At this point, I should make apologies to those like Wheeler who have theological issues with the death penalty. While I respect that particular viewpoint, I am not (categorically) in opposition to the death penalty nor the modern American implementation thereof and thus this particular bit of politics is avoided here for the purpose of convenience. Actually, let me extend that caveat to Just War Theory for different reasons... namely that my personal convictions on that are nowhere near as solidified and that it's a wide-ranging debate that I really don't want to have at this precise moment in time.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:48 PM | TrackBack

September 18, 2008

Government vs. Business

In my best estimation, it's the job of business to make as much money as possible. Generally, this involves making good products so as to encourage consumer confidence in the company and to be a good corporate citizen so that the corporate image isn't tarnished to the point that nobody will buy from them or allow them to do business in a given area... but that's not the primary concern of business. The primary concern of a business is to make money.

The primary concern of a government is the protection of its citizens. This takes on a lot of roles, but the primary calling of governance is the establishment of order and the protection of citizens from various threats that citizens are, in and of themselves, incapable of defending against.

When it comes to business, a government's first role is to be sure that its citizens are protected from the malicious actions of a business. After all, sometimes, a business is all to willing to poison the nation's dogs in the name of making profit because that's what makes the most money. I'm discounting, at the moment, the shortsightedness of a business that might (and often does) lead it to do malicious things. Simply put, at the best of times, what is good for business may not be good for the citizens of the country, and the government is then beholden to protect the citizens of the country.

"But Cynic", you cry, "it's not that simple. Business is run by citizens also and if you hurt business you hurt not only those citizens but also the citizens that business employs." And you are correct, it isn't that simple. But this is only somewhat a case of Machiavellian intrigue and balancing the good of the many with the pain of the few. It should also be noted that no matter how many people profit from it, there are some things that are still wrong. And really, willful criminal activity tops the list.

The real question is about things like the recent bank crisis. And in that case it's a mixed matter.

1) There was some willful criminal activity going on. I'm not saying that it went all the way to the top (I'm also not saying that it didn't), but there are a lot of well-documented cases of loan officers fraudulently signing people up for loans by filling out the paperwork with straight-up lies. And that's not to mention the people who were, themselves, lied to about what sort of loan they were being signed up for.

2) Companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were instructed, by the government, to relax their rules in order to increase home ownership. Starting back in the Clinton administration and continuing through to relatively recently, deregulation and bending the rules for these two lending giants was the order of the day so that home ownership could increase across America, especially for those who traditionally couldn't afford a house. Why couldn't you traditionally afford a house? You couldn't make the payments. How do we change that? Fundamentally, that's not something that you can change without a bunch of smoke and mirrors... and you see where that's gotten us.

3) Servicing mortgages is a very lucrative business... assuming those mortgages pay out and don't foreclose. This very basic premise is something similar to the adage "Investing early in internet companies is a very lucrative business... assuming those internet companies don't go bankrupt." For those of you who can't see where this is going, companies like Country-Wide, Indie Mac, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and others simply could not help themselves when it came to buying up mortgages, and when they couldn't buy mortgages fast enough, they started buying up subprime mortages, "liar loans" and other shady loans. As one insider was noted to say "If we didn't buy those loans, someone else would and we'd be losing money." ... Or not, as it turns out.

In the end, my problem on picking a candidate, or really, the Republican vs. Democrat thing in general comes down to an unwillingness on either side to see the needs of the constituencies of their rivals. Democrats are generally clueless when it comes to respecting the rights and needs of business, as evidenced by the brouhaha over NAFTA in the Democratic primaries. Republicans, on the other hand, seem all too inclined towards the vice of P.T. Barnum and just move to ensure that business is good. Comically enough (well, it will be with hindsight), both attitudes seem to have combined for this perfect storm.

I should also note that, in this matter, my Libertarians are actually no better and probably worse than either party. While Libertarians certainly would never have created Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, you'd be a fool to think that they'd step in to protect consumers from... well... anything short of poisoned food, and maybe not even that. When a Libertarian says "caveat emptor", he means it.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 07:31 AM | TrackBack

September 08, 2008

What If You're Right?

Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden was on Meet the Press on Sunday and he had this to say about the abortion issue that has been plaguing his running-mate since their visit to Rick Warren's Saddleback Church several weeks ago: "[As a Roman Catholic] I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me as inappropriate in a pluralistic society."

Through work and observing the political process and just generally by osmosis, it's been interesting to observe the impact of a pluralistic society on my own thinking. And I suppose Biden's take on the matter is all well and good from a Kantian point of view where one's feelings on religion are to be divorced from one's invidual lifestyle and philosophies of the tangible world and one's dealings with it.

At the same time though, how can Biden, as a professing Christian, claim to agree with the statement that life begins at the moment of conception, or accept that as true, and then have that belief have absolutely no impact? I cannot reconcile that at all. To me, that is by far and away the most contemptible thing that any thinking person could profess.

Simply put, if you believe something, and you believe that you are correct, that belief should change you. If your ethical beliefs have no bearing whatsoever on your actions, either you don't believe them or your actions are not impacted by your rational thought... unless you profess that your beliefs are just whimsy with no more or less authority than those of any others. Which is all well and good, until one reaches a conclusion that has bearing on human life.

To me, this is made more fascinating by the thought of changing Biden's statement to impact a straw-man argument such as "I believe life believes at birth, but I cannot impose my beliefs on those who believe that life does not begin until adolescence and that murder, as such, cannot begin until that point. For me to impose that judgment..." You get the idea. I'm sure there are whole schools of philosophy that I am neglecting here and that there is a flip-side to this argument that someone would like to entertain. That said, I cannot find it and I have a hard time seeing how any Christian could hold such a viewpoint either.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:59 PM | TrackBack

November 12, 2007

Crossing a Picket Line

I will not cross a picket line. Well, that's not strictly true, but it's my personal philosophy on these things. At various points in time, myself and my two brothers were members of a union, as were a large number of my family members on my mom's side, including her father.
Now, if baseball players go on strike, screw them, I'm going to the game. So, the idea isn't that I hold all picket lines as sacrosanct, because I don't, but rather that I'm all about the ideals held by guys on picket lines. Namely, there's no reason that management figures should be getting $25,000 bonuses and at the same time, trying to cut employee benefits. And really, all the excuse I'll ever need to hold something of a soft spot in my heart for my union brothers comes down to the two years I spent working at Kroger's. I mean... it's not like I was making a lot of money by a long-shot but the pay was decent and the hours were good, and that's pretty much what the story was for everyone who worked there. Since then, I've moved to Texas and had several friends work for Wal-Mart. Just watching how Wal-Mart employees get treated and kicked around is bad enough to practically make me want to go help them organize. The comparison is maddening... and the real proof is just how had Wal-Mart is willing to try to prevent their stores from unionizing. After all, paying a fair wage and decent benefits costs the bottom line.
All that said, I'm a fairly conservative guy and not pro-labor by any stretch. I contend that most of the views held by the AFL-CIO and its ilk are boneheaded and backwards. But I won't cross a picket line.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:01 AM | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

Patriotism vs. Bread

Since my posting on jury duty last week, I've been struggling over the nature of patriotic duty. Put simply, does being an American mean that I ought to be willing to selflessly give my time and money for the greater good of Country? And on the other hand, is America going to stop functioning if there aren't people doing just that?

The whole notion smacks of high-minded idealism, and even casual acquaintances of mine should know how I feel about that. But on the other hand, is the government really paying soldiers enough that they would deploy as mercenaries if they didn't have the ideal of God and Country spurring them on?

Coming back around on the point while trying to avoid complicating things: while I certainly believe in supporting my country, I would be very nervous if my country required idealistic altruism to function. Namely, as a cynic, I find it very hard to believe that a country can function in the long-term if it requires the selfless goodwill of its inhabitants to do so.

On the other hand, some could argue that if a citizen is giving to his country out of a realization that his country cannot survive without it, he is pandering to his own self-interest rather than giving selflessly. Put differently, he is serving out of englightened self-interest, which is something that my cynicism can encapsulate, as can the patriotism of all but the most rabid individuals. Unfortunately, this is typically met with the problem that people are stupid. Enlightened self-interest necessitates enlightenment... and we know how people are about that.

Even moreso than a simple appeal to the ignorance of the masses, enlightened self-interest points to larger problems at work within the unwashed citizenship. As I alluded to in my first post on jury duty, there is a simple problem of finances for many of those who would be among the best jurors in terms of diversity. I think the problem can be expanded with a nod to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs... put simply, while the General Prosperity of one's nation is all well and good, the more immediate needs of food, water, shelter, etc. tend to come first. Thus, if an individual's needs aren't being met, he has no need to begin worrying about the welfare of his country. All of this to say is that an empty stomach tends to stand in the way of a more enlightened self interest... but then again, I would argue that there is little that is more enlightened than acquiring food when one is starving to death. This is, of course, less a conclusion to the matter and more an interesting impasse. Solutions and responses are encouraged, and perhaps those will bring a conclusion to the matter.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:15 PM | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

The Use of Tests

In honor of Anna's students, who are hard at work testing, even as we speak:

I've always been a good test-taker. Among the earliest memories of my elementary education are getting called up to the teacher's desk to get a candy or a sticker or something as a reward for my grade having been among the highest in the class. Of course, at good ol' Rex Ralph, that wasn't exactly saying much... over half of the children in the class were socio-economically disadvantaged on a level comparable with the inner city, and besides that I had the advantage of having parents who cared about my learning and kept me supplied with books and math help and anything else I could need to be a good student.

As I came to get lazier throughout my education, my skills as a test-taker coupled with my ability to craft long, seemingly-meaningful essays on subjects about which I knew nothing got me through in the top 10% of my class with a minimal output of effort. I was an expert student of the point of diminishing returns on the effort-to-academic reward graph, and my effort nearly always sat right at that point, knowing full well that I could rely on my test-taking skills to take me the rest of the way.

It always came as a shock to me that people would hate tests. To me, testing was the most efficient way of raising your grade: 30-40 minutes worth of work (2 hours, tops) for the equivalent of the points yielded by several days worth of constant homework output. The concept that a test would be innately problematic was foreign, as was the concept that my ability would not be reflected, or even magnified, by the test.

It was not until the end of my second semester at college that I came to appreciate the hatred of testing that many others knew. Surprisingly, it wasn't the increased amount of study, the increased difficulty, or even the ease at which my professors cut through the dross of my iron-clad bs... it was a grossly unfair final at the end of Calculus 3.

To give you some perspective, Calculus 3 is probably the class at LeTourneau for which I did the most work (runner-up being Circuits 2, which I dropped before it eclipsed Calc 3 in sheer work output.) I did homework 2-3 hours a night, 3 days a week, pretty much without fail, all semester long. This is more of a testament to a group of guys on my floor who worked together than any great claim to academic fortitude which I might lay in my own right. We worked, and we cajoled and we tutored each other... in an area where I was weak, KorMex would give me guidance... and in areas where I actually knew what was going on (Series), I would attempt to explain the tutoring which I had received a year before in high school. We worked our asses off, and we got to the final, mostly holding steady at some form of B or low A. Toad and I figured that we needed some form of A or high B to get an A in the class, and then some form of low B through a C (or maybe even a D) to maintain a B. We took the final, and it was brutal. In the end, Toad and I both had C's.

So yeah, now I have something of an understanding of why people hate tests. And to make testing the almost sole metric of everything that a student learns in a year... that's just stupid. Granted, they are a more objective metric is some respects, but they are also flawed in that they exploit the weakness of any student with a hard time focusing, a lack of discipline (to take a test that could take hours to complete), and a lack of respect for one of the fundamental paradigms of education, which keeps repeating that testing shouldn't be the only thing used to judge the academic viability of a student. Single-faceted evaluations are almost universally considered a Bad Idea... and yet Texas and the nation as a whole (well, really, President Bush) keep pusing the notion that all we need is more testing in education.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:04 AM | TrackBack

March 31, 2006

Rights of Illegals

I'm working up a big post on illegal immigration, as I have lots of strong feelings on the whole subject (and even a couple that are not horrific in their political incorrectness), but right now I've got a simple little train of thought. Why do people keep carping on the rights of illegal aliens?

I mean, sure, they've got some basic human rights. But the way I'm hearing certain people talk, it's like by trying to punish and deport illegal aliens for having broken a law, we're depriving them of some right that they have. The only thing I can compare it to is someone pissing and moaning about the rights of bank robbers after they've been caught as regards their continued freedom and rights to keep their stolen money.

You know, the more I like the bank robber:illegal alien analogy, the more I like it. Essentially victimless crimes on a microscopic level, crimes against society on a macroscopic level, not necessarily (but potentially) violent crimes, trying to improve their status in life by breaking the law... alright, so maybe I am going to be a bit politically incorrect.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 07:47 AM | TrackBack

November 27, 2005

Libertarian Turmoil

So we went to What-a-burger this evening to get a late night meal, and the topic came up that Anna had had some students in her student teaching that had worked 3rd shift.

Now, as a former resident of a fairly liberal state (New York), the notion of a high school student working 3rd shift on a school night about sent me into shock. Anna countered with the point, "Aren't you the Libertarian?" and I must admit that it stung the old brain a bit.

Which raises an interesting point... while it seems obvious that allowing a 10-year-old to work 3rd shift seems to be some sort of human rights violation, the same thing at 18 is perfectly legal. Now, I allow that theere ought to be a gradual relaxation of work prohibitions in the middle... but where exactly does a Human Right stop and Socialistic Government Meddling take over? Should the government be allowed to mandate a 40 hour work week or should the market regulate itself?

more later... comment for now...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:16 AM | TrackBack

November 04, 2005

Political Leanings

You are a

Social Liberal
(63% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(78% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

It's not very often that I go into my own political leanings in writing, mostly because they seem to be in constant flux with very few certainties... and also because such discussion, as has often been speculated in the Ice Cave, tends to create more divisions and bickering than it does accomplish much good.

By way of example of my own unstable stances, though I'm a big fan of fiscal conservatism, I really do appreciate the arts. One side of my brain argues that if taxes weren't so exorbitant, the patronage system that was so prevalent throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance would take over... the other argues for the generally depraved and wanton nature of a society who would never enjoy immediate benefit at large from the largesse of the elite.

That fiscal conservatism is contrasted with a social liberalism in the sense that, though I believe that homosexuality is aberrant and morally reprehensible, I have a hard time justifying a government with a separation of Church and State legislating Judeo-Christian belief on what is essentially a victimless crime. Granted, the case can be argued that every "victimless crime" has its perpetrators as victims... but I have an especially hard time with legislation that protects citizens from themeselves. In short, all of my stances seem to be rather fluid things... and that is somewhat unsettling to me. Open-mindedness is all well and good, as long as there is something at the core.

Fortunately while all of my politics seem relatively subject to change I can hold close to the few truths that are known to me:

1) Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength
2) Love your neighbor as yourself

...Wow, that kind of got long, windy and introspective. I think I'll shut up now and paraphrase a famous Watson-ism: As long as I'm getting older and continue to find that I'm asking more questions and am sure of fewer answers, I think I'm going in the right direction.

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August 09, 2005


In response to this post of mine, comments pursuant to it, and this post of Toad's, I have attempted this analysis of the Child Protection Services and Government's role in the protection of children from a libertarian and Christian viewpoint. I encourage and value feedback and would love to develop this into a more cogent, longer, and cited work:

Having been given the unfortunate task of defending the necessity of the Child Protection Services (hereafter referred to as CPS), allow me to start with a couple of caveats. It should be noted that the author, as a Libertarian approaches the role of government from that perspective, and in particular, the view that there are some roles that cannot be entrusted to private organizations, such as anything with welfare of the entire public in mind. Thus, to a libertarian, these roles are accepted as inevitable, but limited to absolute necessities. That said your average libertarian (myself included) accepts police presence and military defense operations as necessities, along with judicial responsibilities and whatever (minimal) legislative needs arise. Obviously the laws will be up for grabs, but it's generally accepted that murder, rape, assault, kidnapping... etc are illegal.

In short, the question I have been given to answer is: "Should the public be entrusted with the protection of society's children in an ad hoc fashion, or should it be a governmental responsibility, bearing in mind that it is already tasked with the defense of the public welfare?"

Now, before any of you shout "theocracy" and I have to light you on fire, allow me another caveat: in an ideal Christian society, I can let there be no line between Church and State... but we do not have such a system so the point is moot.*

Now that we've gone and sighed about "wouldn't it be nice" (and this isn't too dismiss the idea that an ideal world and an ideal government wouldn't be nice), please allow me to address the pragmatic realities.

While I appreciate that a great many conservatives would really like the idea of private organizations handling items of public welfare, I would counter that, at least in the case of child welfare, governmental oversight is the lesser of two evils. Simply put, a government has the obligation to protect the rights of its citizens. In short, the rights of a child to be protected from torture, abuse and negligent parents supersedes a parent's right to custody of a child. To that end, I would argue that "taking someone's children is kidnapping", while true in lieu of outstanding governmental obligations, becomes moot when said parent has been legally demonstrated to be a risk to his/her child.

Now, as to Toad's solution of a privatized equivalent of the CPS, I think he admits that it won't work within the strictures of a modern government, but I'd like to explore further why it's a bad idea even within the confines of a typical libertarian government. In short, I believe that even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, this is where we get into the thorny issue of child custody. I wouldn't go so far as to say, like some Socialistic countries, that children are legally the wards of the State from the beginning and are only given to parents in trust... but I would like to point out that a child has to be looked after by someone. To that end, while I certainly appreciate Toad's notion of privatized Foster Services or the equivalent, the government has an obligation to see that the children in question are placed in good homes, should their own extended families (the next ideal step) be unable to do so, because government is protecting them in lieu of their parents and is protecting them FROM their parents. Now, I see Toad's general call for civic responsibility by Christians looking out for children in need as viable. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that Christians are obviously not fulfilling their obligatory role because there are still hundreds and thousands of children already in the system looking for permanent homes. To that end, I am willing to argue that government is doing a superior job to the Christian community in that it is at least dealing with all of the children in such a way as it can.

In short, the argument that the government is the ultimate evil is a nice thing to tell oneself, but it cannot be the end-all. In fact, while criticism of the government's methods has a legitimate place, it cannot operate in the vacuum of a failure to perform civic duties and attempt to work within it. To criticize CPS and the foster system and yet not seek to improve it by volunteering one's own resources falls dangerously close to hypocrisy (I speak to myself as much as others.) While far-reaching changes would certainly be welcome, the fact of the matter is that many Christians have failed to even work to improve the current system... opting instead to stand at a distance, point and ridicule. As the adage goes "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

*At least to my mind it has been proven in modern times that God is not actively working as the head of a governmental system as per the Old Testament, even if said government claims otherwise, ergo, Holy Roman Empire, Papal States and kingship by divine right. Rulers may be divinely inspired, but God is not actively ruling any countries. In fact, even in the OT when God WAS ostensibly at the head of the State, things frequently go to hell in a hand-basket and all manner of idiotic religious and social mandates were issued, seemingly as "God's will" as stated by the current leader. Simply put, if you have an axe to grind on theocracy, don't start it in my comment system... either make a post of your own or send me an email and we'll go there.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

Nature of Suicide

Anna and I had a long and drawn-out discussion today about the topic of suicide in general. Now, setting aside any personal feelings of morality regarding a Divine Ban on such things, my question, as usual, lies more to the lines of the semantics.

The question is essentially this: Is disconnecting one's own life support technically suicide?

My assertion is that to end a life is considered murder (either homicide or suicide, depending on the perpetrator) and that so long as the state of the living being changes to deceased as a direct result of the act in question, it really doesn't matter if the means was slitting a wrist or disconnecting a respirator.

Anna adds certain moral and ethical implications to this along with tying it into a spoiler to a movie that many haven't seen here. To me, the moral and ethical implications will fall out along certain lines once one gains a basic understanding of death and murder: namely, the removal of life, either via action or inaction constitutes a choice by a party to preserve or remove life from himself or another. In short, if you have a choice and you choose to extinguish life, you have placed yourself in line for a willful termination of life... more commonly known as either homicide or suicide.

Are there extenuating circumstances? Perhaps... but perhaps not. All else aside, I would assert that endeavors to dance around the above paragraph are typically (but not always) self-deluding attempts to soften a moral blow and such tapdancing should be abandoned at least until terms are properly defined.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:34 AM | TrackBack

November 22, 2004


Which Biological Molecule Are You?

You are an enzyme. You are powerful, dark,
variable, and can change many things at your
whim...even when they're not supposed to be
changed. Bad you. You can be dangerous or
wonderful; it's your choice.

brought to you by Quizilla (thanks Sharptiano)


Cynic: Hey look! I'm an enzyme (goes on to read enzyme aloud...)
Wheeler: Yeah, you and Paige and Scott...
Cynic: Fitting company!
Wheeler: Yeah, go figure...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:50 AM | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

Thoughts on Theft

I've always had friends with rather unique views on property ownership, but I think Silk takes the cake:

Silk walked mournfully around the barge. "It's mine, all right," he sighed.
"You keep well-equipped barges, Silk," Durnik said, carefully measuring a board.
"This one had everything I need right in the bow—nails, a barrel of tar, and even a fairly good saw. We'll have it afloat before morning."
"I'm glad you approve," Silk said sourly. He made a wry face. "This is unnatural," he complained.
"What's the problem, Kheldar?" Velvet asked him.
"Usually, when I want a boat, I steal one. Using one of my own seems immoral somehow."
Pulled from David Eddings' Sorceress of Darshiva.
Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:47 PM | TrackBack

November 06, 2004

Adventures in Cafeteria Cuisine

I have been in communication with Ma Hoyt on the topic of cafeteria eating and after giving her a list of guidelines in dealing with institutional food, I figured I would pass along the following precautionary words to my readership as well.

When eating in a cafeteria be careful to heed the following:
1) Avoid any meat that is rendered so you cannot differentiate between meat, gristle and fat.
2) Soup and stranges sauces are to be likewise avoided unless you can clearly distinguish all of the constituent parts.
3) Hamburgers are your friends, as is cereal and anything that is pre-packaged (food contained is food the hospital cooking staff can't have touched.)
4) Find out if your cafeteria is the kind that the milk goes bad or the kind that can't get the mixing settings right on the soda fountains and fruit drink dispensers. If both categories apply, stick with water from the fountain (outside of cafeteria jurisdiction.)
5) If all else fails, Walmart and vending machines are there to help you.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:02 PM | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

My Stated Objectives

1) Pave the downward spiral into hateful, black abyss of limitless Cynicism.
2) Individualized and instituitionalized misogyny and chauvinism
3) Abuse (verbally and physically) the general populace.
4) Engage in the continual purchasing of souls.
5) Machiavellian Machinations
6) Sell souls only to the most corrupt of buyers.
7) Prejudice... just prejudice.
8) Swearing, cursing, expletives, profanity, obscenity, foul speech...
9) Kicking small animals (children included.)
10) Champion Archaic and Obscure English, especially the terms "wench", "trollop", "guttersnipe", "broad"
11) Encourage archetyping, stereotyping, and wide-sweeping generalizing
12) Belittle, Berate, Besmirch, Begrudge, Beleaguer and BeaBastard
13) Aggression and Offensiveness (driving included)
14) Enslave and oppress
15) Deadly weapons... I'm in favor of them all
16) Aestheticism... sometimes art is just art.
17) Freudian Psychoanalysis
18) Exploitative Capitalism
19) Abusive Autocracy

More objectives to come as I come up with them or as they are suggested to me... current helpful contributors include Wheeler as well as anonymous muses...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:07 PM | TrackBack

June 29, 2004

Paternal Ingenuity...

In the spirit of LU as I am away, I must relate to you a scheme hatched by a male friend of mine who will go unnamed due to the controversiality of his ideas:

As a guy, I really don't like diapers at all and really can't stomach changing them. Maybe it's a lack of maternal instinct or something, but I can't really stomach the process. When I was thinking on this and the prospect of having kids of my own, I came up with a brilliant idea.

Dogs eat anything... at least I know mine does. So I figured that what I would do is take the diaper off the kid and take him outside and let the dog lick him clean. Then I pop a new diaper on and PRESTO!... he's clean, and I had to do nothing but tear the old diaper off and put the new one on. Heck, I could just have the dog clean the diaper and put it back on Junior.

Needless to say, I was impressed but others were not. That said, I am definitely considering investing in a dog and some land, should the need arise. That said, I am much more in favor of this being reserved as a backup plan to the primary solution of having the wench change the diapers.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:50 PM | TrackBack

June 22, 2004

Reasons Latin America Annoys Me

Recently, I've been reading some rather inane opinion pieces demonizing the U.S. whilst praising the merits of unimportant unowned colonies in North, Central and South America that dare to call themselves countries. As if anyone needed proof to the suckiness of these countries, I point to the most aggregious of these: Mexico.

Look, I'm not saying that the U.S. is perfect... but at least our chief exports aren't our citizens that are trying to illegally emigrate and our chief industry isn't cut-rate labor. Anyone contending that these countries are superior must explain to me why Latin American nations have the nasty proclivity to elect and continue to re-elect corrupt officials and willingly overlook illicit drug activities within their borders. And I'm talking corrupt like stealing 50% of the country's national savings and running off to another country and corrupt like allowing a giant organized crime ring to incorporate the national police force and use them as an enforcement arm... and the "politicians" get away with this.

The naysayers will contend that Latin America would be better off if it weren't for U.S. interference and that it is unfair for the United States to look down upon its southern neighbors. I will counter that at some point in the past, we all had an equal shake. We in the United States were British colonies, and that might have been advantageous... but let's face it: at a point where shipping and farming were serious business, Latin America had an extreme advantage over the United States.

In sum, I'm not saying that we don't have our own huge issues. I'd just like the peanut gallery to quit hokking a tchynik about the greatness of Latin America and the demons of my country. I'm sick of the unjustified prattle.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:46 PM | TrackBack

June 20, 2004


So yeah... mirrored sunglasses are unsettling at the very least. When I kiss my girlfriend, I don't want to end up seeing myself. *Shudders*

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:48 PM | TrackBack

May 31, 2004


You know the situation. You're looking at a choice that no matter which way you choose (or which outcome you work towards) it's going to suck. So then it's just a matter of the lesser of two evils.

And then there's its cursed cousin... the lose-lose epiphany. Essentially, you're fighting against an outcome because you know it's going to unpleasant at best. And then all of a sudden the tables turn and you realize that the other outcome that you're fighting towards is going to be even worse. It's even worse than the loaded question with no right answer, it's the loaded problem with no good solution.

So the question is, what do you do when the epiphany hits? Do you just stop? Do you throw one or two more punches because it's hard to give up on something that you've been working for? Or do you just take your marbles, go home, and pray to God that someone's in the market for those damned marbles so you can try to take what little money you can get and run.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:04 PM | TrackBack

May 19, 2004

Presidential Politics

I've held off on commenting on the War in Iraq at any length for quite some time due to a general personal conflict as to the nature and necessity. The fact of the matter is this: I don't believe that the war was justified nor do I believe that our haste in initiating the conflict to invade a sovereign nation was proper or wise.

There are two typical justifications for the war by those who advocated it:
1) Human Rights
2) WMD's

As to the first argument, I find this to be largely inconsistent and hypocritical. Who are we to dictate Human Rights policy to the world and then selectively enforce it? If we are going to dictate policy or even enforce policy, it must be done thoroughly, honestly, and consistently. That means that we don't invade Iraq and wag our fingers at China and just wink at Russia. In short, I find this rationale to be reactionary and inconsistent.

As to the argument of weapons of mass destruction, I will allow that this could have been a justified reason to invade Iraq. That said, I am puzzled and disturbed by our haste to rush into Iraq. Here was a situation that had sat at a virtual stand-still for 11 years... and all of a sudden there was a pressing need to invade? I honestly hope for intelligence information some day to justify this sudden press into Iraq... but truth be told, I'm not holding my breath.

Aside from looking into the reasoning for invading Iraq, there is now the problem of enforcing peace in Iraq. The fact of the matter is that we are using a military force whose training lies in confronting problems with lethal force as a police brigade. While this doesn't justify or condone the resulting dilemmas that have cropped up in Iraq, it also goes to show that in the headlong rush into Iraq, someone should have been thinking harder about the peacekeeping to follow and the military isn't totally to blame.

As to those who say that the United States has unfairly and unjustly offended its allies, I must generally disagree. Granted, while US policy in Iraq has tended to alienate some allies, I would suggest that this conflict simply serves to highlight the tensions of modern global politics. The United States has not seen eye-to-eye with most of Europe in quite some time, and any allegations of financial opportunism leveled against the US by EU member-states are hypocritical and tinged in jealousy. In short, the relationship between the US and EU members is being re-defined and there is considerable penis envy on the part of EU members and a noticeable lack of consideration for the EU on the part of the US.

Finally, to those whose only comment on the conflict in Iraq is that John Kerry would make a better choice for President, I find your reasoning questionable at best. While I am the first to admit that George W. Bush is a second-rate president who has made some poor choices, I will also point out that his domestic solutions have been effective and his leadership in crisis has been decisive. I would also note that voting against the current president and opting to replace him with a silent political spin-doctor seems foolish. Kerry has used his Congressional tenure to prove his tendency to waffle on just about any issue available and prove himself to be principled only in a lack of solid principles. While I dislike Bush much of the time, at least he's reliable.

So... in a mad attempt to conclude this mess, I guess I'll say this: I don't like Bush a lot of the time, but he has principles that I tend to agree with that he can be trusted to follow. Kerry is anything but principled and his main platform is anti-Bush, and I really would rather pick a president who can be relied upon to stick up for something. If I lived in a non-crucial state, I would vote for the Libertarian or Constitutional candidates... but I am a resident of Ohio and will be voting for Bush because it beats the alternative.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:41 PM | TrackBack

May 17, 2004

I Hate FOX News

So Wheeler and I went out to Pizza Hut for lunch as it is one of the better places to get a good cheap buffet without little kids running around. Sadly, the place typically has FOX News dialed in and I'm forced to watch/listen to that trash while I digest. I've not yet decided if I prefer the little rugrats at Cici's.

But I digress... so we were at Pizza Hut and eating as we watched the aforementioned news station, particularly Dayside with Linda Vester. Now for those of you not familiar, of all of FOX News' distinguished crew, I'm pretty sure Linda Vester is the stupidest. She rarely has anything unique or original to say, even in breaking news... and more often than not is just plain wrong. So we watched with the typical pain accompanying this sort of torture and ate our pizza and attempted to distract ourselves from the TV.

And then she announced the next segment as a discussion of the US discouraging athletes from displays of patriotism at the 2004 Olympic Games Athens. So Wheeler and I looked up intrigued and sat glued to the set and diligently awaited the coming discussion. What a let-down...

First let me tell you that the fact that I cannot find a newsprint basis for this discussion anywhere on FOX News' website tells me something about the nature of the discussion from the get-go. Linda Vester was bored and decided to make a story, and an anti-patriotic discussion of the American flag seemed to appeal. To that end, she had called in the senior government liason to the US Olympic Team and Mike Gallagher (an idiotic conservative talking head.)

The US Olympic Official made very clear that Vester's summation of the conflict was fallacious and incorrect. He went on to clarify that the main concern being expressed by the US Olympic Committee was the ensurance of good sportsmanship and honorable treatment of the American Flag. He went on to clarify that there had never been an attempt to get American olympians to stop waving the flag or using it respectfully.

At this point, all Vester and Gallagher had were conflicting quotes that had been obviously ripped out of context. If I was the official, I would have told the pair to go to hell and hung up... but that's just me. In the end, all I really want to do is note that while CNN sucks, so does FOX News. I just wish there was one news outlet that didn't suck.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:52 PM | TrackBack

May 03, 2004

Control Freak

I must say that I am really proud of Anna for the way she's responded to the hijacking of her computer. I guess this just highlights another of those places where I have a rough edge.

My response to people goes something like this: you can say whatever you want about me, or to me... and you can even mess with me and push me around as long as you're willing to accept a likewise return, but don't mess with my stuff. Granted, I have been known to make exceptions to my own policy, but they are exceptionally rare and usually executed in retaliation and always with care for the property of others.

I don't know why I'm so protective of my stuff. Maybe it's because that's how my dad always was, or maybe it's just because for a very long time, there were few things that were just my own that I didn't have to share with my brothers. In any case, I have always felt an acute sense of responsibility and pride in my stuff. This especially extends to my computer. When people do silly little things to my computer like changing my desktop, I tend to get unreasonably upset. Granted, part of that is the fact that I'm angry at myself for not locking my computer... but most of it is just that it's mine, and it's my computer, so it's an extension of me. I don't know how it works, this is just more of a chance to note that I am proud that Anna is mature enough to handle good-natured teasing and at the same time noting that I'm not there yet and letting that serve as a warning.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:53 AM | TrackBack

April 30, 2004

That Time of Year

For those of you who have to interact with me and I don't seem my normal self, I'm sorry. This last week is more or less a blur to my mind as I try to cope with overload. I'm not by nature an emotional person or anything of the sort, but I'm really bad with goodbyes... especially the kind that I'm not sure when (if ever) I'll be seeing some people again. That sort of thing just really tends to get to me for some reason.

When you add on to the stress that comes up with all sorts of things coming due, finals, and summer plans... well... you get the picture. All that to say is that I'm sorry for not being my normal, disagreeable self. If I get sappy when you would expect me to give you a hard time, just chalk it up to the strain on my brain. And bear in mind that I'll be back to normal in about 2 weeks.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:15 PM | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

On the Business of Chapel...

Call me crazy, but I really didn't enjoy chapel today. It all started with praise and worship. Granted, I'm fairly obnoxious regarding my likes and dislikes of praise and worship... that said, I'd like to be able to understand what's going on. If we're singing in Spanish, I really don't have much of a clue. We could be singing in Swahili or even "Made-Up Space Language" for all I care. Yes, I know we're being "diverse" and "multi-cultural," but the simple fact of the matter is that if I don't understand what I'm singing, there isn't much point. The traditional argument is that there is a significant population of Spanish-speakers at LeTourneau... and that's fine with me. I would just like to point out that there is a significantly larger population of people who don't understand Spanish, and the fact of the matter is that it's required that one speak English to end up at LU in the first place. So yeah... I'm having serious issues with praise and worship that might as well have been in "Made-Up Space Language."

That rousing praise and worship chapel just really put me in a wonderful mood for the message. That said, the message didn't start out half bad... essentially Corey correlated Simon of Cyrene's carrying of Christ's cross with a Christian's carrying of each other's burdens. And then it got weird... because "carrying burdens" all of a sudden meant rebuking others in love when they needed it... and by others, it means just about anyone you feel like rebuking whom you suspect might be a Christian. I've heard that sentiment several times before, and usually it ends up with overzealous Christian teens going around and making general asses out of themselves. And what's worse, Corey encouraged this sort of nonsense by telling people not to worry about feeling silly or stupid in confronting their friends and acquiantances.

Look, I'm not saying that this sort of thing doesn't have a place, and indeed there is quite the biblical precedent for confronting a sinner in love... but that said, I would like to look at the example of Christ and the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42. I really don't want to do an in-depth exegesis, I just want to point out that before Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman's extensive sin problem, he established a rapport and earned a right to say something. I would like to take this as an example rather than people who walk up and start condemning people.

Oh yeah... and I really wish people would lay proper logical framework for chapel messages. I know they typically have something valid to say, but I really dislike the fact that an unacceptably large number of chapel speakers don't have the logic of a hill of beans. If I'm made to listen to these people, at least they could do me the favor of spending some time on their talks.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

April 09, 2004

More On Worship

The more I've thought about it, the more I think I can break the classification of a person's outlook on worship into three groups: Intellectual, Emotional, Physical. The intellectual worshipper finds much more fulfillment in a well-researched sermon, the emotional worshipper in a poignant praise and worship service, and a physical worshipper delights in Christian service as an act of worship. Granted, these groups are not mutually exclusive and there may be some who feel as though they fall into 2 or even all 3 sections equally, but I find it to be something of a continuum where one could be strongly given to intellectual expression or equally split between intellectual and physical or something like that.

The point is, there are some people who really appreciate and can understand physical expressions of worship but cannot sing for anything and may hate listening to sermons, whereas others will have a hard time with physical expressions and emotional expressions and go for intellectual. Granted, one's categorization of individual worship styles within these expressions is somewhat open to interpretation, as someone might find leading a worship service to be a physical or even intellectual exercise, as well as some sermons being highly emotional experiences. That said, I suspect a good bit of the inability of Christians to see eye to eye has to do with an inability to relate to one another through worship.

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April 08, 2004

On Worship

Between Randy's post on worship and talking with Anna about her devotion for this week (on dancing), I've been doing a bit of rolling the whole worship thing around in my head. As many of you may or may not be aware of, I hail from a fairly conservative and Baptist-oriented background, and charismatics positively give me the jibblies. The fact of the matter is that this dislike is largely due to a complete lack of understanding. When it comes down to it, I am not a very emotionally-driven person and I am much more given to an intellectual worship than an emotional one. Thusly, for a long time I was not exceptionally accepting of the emotional variety.

Currently, while charismatics make me at least slightly uneasy, I try not to be too down on them and live by a policy of "If it's biblically-justifiable, go for it... as long as you don't expect me to follow suit." Granted, this approach extends to fairly straight-laced things by charismatic standards like dancing, holding up hands, waving things around, etcetera. I'm still not buying into things that are traditionally held as not biblically-justifiable such as being "Slain in the Spirit" or speaking in unintelligible "tongues".

All of that said however, the root of my problem of worship is essentially that which disrupts others... especially when said "others" are expected to join. For instance, if you have a tamborine that you insist on playing during worship but couldn't keep beat to save your soul, that's going to bother me. Even so, this still could be considered a valid form of worship and it could be that my skin isn't thick enough... but my least favorite thing is when forms of worship with which I am not comfortable are forced on me. Do you want to dance? Fine... just don't make people participate. Same thing for traditional worship like hymns and chants: just because it is the preferred form of the moment doesn't mean it should be mandatory that someone who doesn't feel comfortable participate.

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April 03, 2004

Always Alone

When the hour strikes late
The turmoil comes home
And in the silence I realize
Again, I'm alone

I'm always alone
the only one there
there's nobody listening
'cause there's no one to care

Sleep, pleasant sleep
steal away my shame
there's comfort in loneliness --
I'm the only one to blame

A wretched little strung-together mess of verse. I really hate loneliness.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:27 AM | TrackBack

March 28, 2004

On Memory

So I went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the crew. And by the crew, I mean just about everyone in the SC. I really enjoyed the movie... and thought it was high-quality stuff. People always claim that Jim Carey is a crappy actor or deride all of his stuff, but I would assert he's excellent in Eternal Sunshine.

Without any spoilers, the movie is essentially about a couple who erases one another from their respective memories and the associated emotions and interactions that go along with that. In short, one of the messages one is intended to derive from the film is that ignorance is not bliss and even sad memories are worth having. This is a message that I would affirm and support totally, and while I would muse that this film shares the notion with Big Fish that flawed memory with its indulgences is a fair sight better than none at all, that is neither here nor there.

This whole discussion of the fallacy of ignorance brought up an interesting memory of a bible study in high school where my youth pastor declared that in heaven, we would have no memory of our lives on earth, because clearly that would make us sad and invalidate Revelation 21:4.

While I have never met anyone else to advocate this position, that's mostly because I've never gone looking and it's not something that comes up a whole lot. That said, on a philosophical level, the argument bothers me horribly. Regardless of whether or not one can find good scripture to argue definitively for it, one should note John 14. Not only does Jesus refer to Himself as the way, truth and life in verse 6, but he also refers to the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of Truth" in verse 17. I cannot help but think that an all-knowing God who refers to Himself as Truth would send people to a paradise of ignorance. I'm going to roll this one around some more, but that's what I've got for now...

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March 26, 2004


It's funny how many people are full of advice of things you should have done or ideas for what you can do differently to make your life run correctly. The worst part is, they tend to think that this advice is best proffered when someone comes to them for help.

I don't know about other people, but at least in my case, I know when I've screwed up. I am easily my own harshest critic, and it is rare indeed when someone can tell me something bad about myself that I hadn't already considered (and probably considered at length.) When people come to you for help... give them help, and if they want advice, they will ask you for it.

I know I'm probably as guilty or more of this than anyone else, but I just figured it would be good food for thought.

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March 23, 2004


Every time I go to Cici's with my friends, I can't help but noticing all of the little hooligans running rampant throughout the establishment. This sort of observation typically leads to idle speculation about what I would do about the problem were I to run a restaurant. Typically, the responses to my idle speculation range from amusement to outrage... so for the amusement of the author, I suppose I will indulge you.

First, the idea is that children are acceptable as long as they are not loose. Granted, this does present a problem with loud, leashed children... but we'll deal with that in a second. Essentially, there will be multiple surveillance cameras to track the patrons of the restaurant. Shortly after arrival, a patron will be entered into the system as a child or a typical patron and thusly monitored. There will also be several tranquilizer-launching turrets mounted on the ceiling and controlled by computers. Assuming a child acts up, these turrets will fire on the problematic child and then a robotic sweeping unit will intervene and return the child to his/her parent(s).

In order to make sure this does no damage, there will be multiple weight plates hidden in the floor of the establishment so as to properly gauge the mass of the target in question. Further, calculations will err on the low side so as to not kill anyone and targeting will be precise and coordinated using advanced military target-acquisition and tracking algorithms. And here's the fun part... it's all customizable.

Say you don't like kids who whine and get loud... use a low-yield dart to mellow them out. Same goes for drunk and obnoxious patrons. In short... I want to market this thing to everyone. I know I'd eat somewhere with this system employed... and I would take kids to one of these places too.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:31 PM | TrackBack

March 17, 2004

Literary Chauvinism

So I've been rereading Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time) and I stopped mid-series to re-read Eric Flint's The Philosophical Strangler. The contrast in the treatment of gender roles is quite fascinating. On one hand we have the cold sociopathic manipulative female of Robert Jordan who beats and bends the grudging men of the world to her will. On the other we have Flint's males, who go into manipulation by women knowing full well that they love the women entirely too much to hold it against them, and yet being manipulated even as they walk into a situation where they know the odds and know what they should do to exert their own will on the situation at hand.

The whole contrast begs for a circumstance where men are not being dragged around by their noses and manipulated into situations, and Flint (as should be expected) does introduce the occasional man who is seemingly above the whole situation. However, Jordan seems to delight in a feminist perspective of women running the world in dominantly matriarchal society where the only men who do get into power are guilty of idiocy and gain power only by random luck and sustain it by sheer brutality. It's enough to make one wonder if Robert Jordan is gay.

That said, each author provides an amusing and captivating story which drags you into his world. Jordan is exceptionally amazing in that one is compelled to read even as one has SERIOUS misgivings about his sociological interpretations and the bizarre anthropological situations that he constructs. These are some books I recommend to anyone and would encourage comment from all who have read them.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:38 PM | TrackBack

March 15, 2004


I've always suspected people are idiots... but it's things like this that provide me with fuel to feed the fire and convert others to my cynical view of things.

To clarify: "What do you get when you stampede like a bunch of ignorant cattle in response to a terrorist attack and do exactly what the terrorists wanted? More terrorist attacks!"

Why do you think it is the policy of every sane government on the face of the earth not to deal with terrorists? And yet the people of Spain have sent a very clear message to the rest of the world: "Want us to go away? Want us to bend to your will? Just bomb us near election day!"

Granted, this may work in many places... and maybe it's just that Spain is an unfortunately relevant example. However, I think not. The US is just the kind of place where someone might try this... but I would almost bet on the stubborn attitude of the American public to buck something like this. I just can't see the cowardly response of "our actions have made us Al-Qaieda targets" in the US. If anything, that would solidify our resolve to go out and kill everyone in our way.

Maybe I'm just annoyed and blowing steam... but that has to be the most ignorant response to terror I've seen in some time.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:34 PM | TrackBack

March 07, 2004

Too Much to Do

I used to think that there would come a day when I would have more time to do things with than I would have things to do and then I could finally catch up on the backlog. That was a couple of years ago, and I have sense come to grips with the fact that I cannot be all things, as much as I would like to. Nor can I do all things, not even just the things that I want to do or even just the things that I want to and could reasonably do (thus, organizing a military coup in France is out... at least for this year.)

Making matters worse, it seems that every time I turn around, there are more things that I would like to do and more things that I really ought to do popping up. So, even as I have more things that I would like to do, I have less time to do them because of everything else that I have to do. But in any event, I do have to say that I am extremely thankful that I have so many awesome oppurtunities, great friends, and just a generally wonderful life.

Yes, it annoys the hell out of me that I have so far to go and so short of a time to get there, but at least I'll be travelling in good company. And to those of you who have gotten annoyed by my lack of truly depressing thoughts of late, I'm sorry... come hang around me for a bit and you'll come to understand the reason for the unseemly optimism.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:25 PM | TrackBack

March 04, 2004


Did you ever hate being alone in the dark?

It was never the 'in the dark' part that bothered me, it was the 'alone' part. I hate being alone probably more than anything else... and the worst kind of alone is the kind like when you were little and your parents left you in the nursery and walked off... the abandoned kind.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:47 AM | TrackBack

February 29, 2004

Ethics, Part 2

It is interesting that after taking this little trip through the contemplation of ethics and everyone having a weak point in their ethical structure by which these strictures can be overruled, the sermon at church this morning seemed to have great application in that direction. The sermon was over the temptation of Jesus, using Luke 4:1-13 as the principal text.

Essentially, mulling this all over, I've come to the conclusion that while some combaination of power, fear and material will overcome just about anyone's ethics, we are called to a higher standard and Christ sets an example for us to follow. Granted, this is not an easy one and I pray for grace never to be put in a place where the buying price of my ethics is set before me. But should that day come, I hope that I have someone around to beat me before I take the money and do that which I should know better than to do.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:31 PM | TrackBack

Comparative Ethics

When I sit down and think about all of the experiences I've had in general and in specific interactions with individuals, my cynical perspective returns to this: "everyone's ethics are for sale, at the right price."

It's kind of like real estate in a tourist town. For the right price, this too can be yours. Granted, sometimes it's not all about dollars and cents and sometimes you have to be willing to throw something odd in to sweeten the pot like a trip in a new car or access to some power, but I would contend that just about everyone has his or her price.

Now, the redeeming thing about this is that most of our prices are fairly high, and God has been faithful to keep us from harm's way and prevent those circumstances which would surely buy our ethics from crossing our paths until after His work has carried through to the point that we are much less vulnerable, but that doesn't mean the tenet is wrong.

In short, I guess what I'm trying to get at is to wonder aloud what exactly my price is and if thinking about that can make me a bit better prepared if temptation should arise. Not that I want to glorify sin and revel in the fact that every "good Christian" has his or her own proverbial '30 pieces of silver', but rather to encourage thought about what your own buying price is, why it is that way, and what you could do to reconcile the worth of your relationship with God to that price.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:39 AM | TrackBack

February 22, 2004


"The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."
Genesis 2:18-22 (NIV)

When I stop and think about it, I really am quite the extrovert. It's funny how whenever I am abruptly separated from the company of a large group of friends and have to console myself with my own company, I get very depressive. This passage above is probably one of my favorites in the Bible, not only because it explains my personality and outlook on life fairly well but also because of how God deals with this. Rather than leaving Adam alone to work it out by himself, God sends Adam some company. Now Adam has a friend whom God has designed specifically for Adam so that he can be supported and not be lonely.

So often, I guess I just take for granted that I always have friends around: people whom God has set aside to support me. And every now and again, it probably does me some good to be away from all of those people to get perspective. But I really am not all that crazy about being alone for long periods of time. Some of you will note how obsessive I am about not leaving people behind when we go to do stuff. As best as I can figure, this little compulsion of mine is best described by the fact that I hate being left behind. There are few feelings that upset me more than the feeling that my friends are doing something and I'm not involved.

All that to say is, go find a friend and have then enjoy the day with you tomorrow. Friends don't let friends get left out of fun.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:39 AM | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

My Education (Part 1)

A consideration of my educational background grants me considerable insight into my formative years as well as my interactions with others and perspective on these interactions.

It must have been 2nd grade or so when I realized that I was being used to further the educations of others. In hindsight, I don't believe that this problem would have ever come to a head if it weren't for my perpetual boredom at school. You see, to my young mind, my perpetual boredom was a direct result of the teachers slowing down to accommodate the lazy students. To further this, now she wanted me to drag along those same students whose laziness and inattention had led to my boredom and the wasting of my time in the first place.

Granted, this simplistic understanding of mine failed to take into account the difference in scholastic capability between myself and others... but remember that I was a 2nd-grader. Besides this, the kids I was helping might not have been as "smart" as I was, but they were slacking so hard that some of the desks were outperforming them... thus negating any possibility of some sort of revelation and resultant compassion that I might have had for them.

And, as is the case with this sort of injustice in the mind of a child, I took my problem to my most trusted legal representative: my mother. I told mom in no uncertain terms that I was having no more of my time wasted by these hangers-on and that I was tired of doing nothing but tutor others in school. My mother took advantage of my simplistic and childish logic and turned the discussion into an evaluation of my lack of compassion and unwittingly started a debate that we've been having for 15 years. After all, she might have painted me into a corner that I couldn't have found my way out of at the time... but I had this nagging feeling that there was something wrong with her argument and eventually I figured out the problem, thus creating new arguments. And behold the argument of homogenous versus heterogeneous grouping and the underlying compassion or lack thereof present in the systems has kept us amused and sparring through my academic career... but I digress.

Being as that I was attending a 4th-rate school in a 3rd-rate district, this sort of nonsense kept up in droves. 3rd-grade was a lot like 2nd with the notable exception of a rudimentary attempt at dividing advanced English from remedial and likewise for math... thus causing me to only have to help bring up the rear guard in Science and History. This pattern continued through into 4th grade with a slight change in that advanced 4th-graders were combined with remedial 5th-graders, creating a 3rd group that was meant to accelerate people whose academic background was at least better than what we had in our grade and thus things bogged down a bit less frequently.

Midway through 4th grade, I moved to New York. This move facilitated an educational Renaissance whereupon I was transferred to one of the best public school systems I have ever seen and was given a teacher who really cared. I guess at this point I really ought to enumerate how Mount Healthy (old district) differed from Shenendehowa (new district.)

In Mount Healthy, there were 3 major demographics: Catholic families, elderly couples and families on welfare. This is a community on the edge of the incorporated district of Cincinnati and bears all of the markings of a once-affluent area that had since had almost all of the money move out or huddle into small pockets throughout the area. Thusly, most people either had no kids, had their kids in private school, or didn't care about their kids' education (generalizations, but statistically provable) and this caused the school's funding which came from property tax levees (voted on by the residents) to stay at the constant rate that it had been at since the 1970's. This lack of funding provided class sizes in the 30+ region in elementary school. Combine that with teachers who were extremely poorly paid, buildings built on governmental grants for experimental "open learning" (read: no walls between many classrooms) and 50% of the student populace from government-subsidized housing and anyone who could afford it getting their kids to private school and you have Mount Healthy.

This is getting long, so I will close this section with a comparative look at Shen. Put simply, there are exclusive private schools in many areas that are nowhere near as high-quality nor as elite as the upper-level classes at Shen. Even the "forgotten 50%" received far better treatment and educational provision than anyone I've seen in any other district. There were sports of every variety, classes for all manner of special interest, classes of 15-20 students, massive and expensive school buildings, specially-hired teachers' aides who did nothing but provide educational assistance and VERY well-paid teachers. Students and parents generally cared (if only to keep up appearances) and more than anything, were willing to pay the high taxes to ensure excellent education and high property values.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:58 PM | TrackBack

February 01, 2004

The Good Guy

I've never been particularly partial to movies with a cliched ending and this holds doubly true for tales where the "Good Guy" always prevails. Movies like Swordfish, Boondock Saints and The Godfather appeal to the viewer to look beyond the simplistic morality tale of the black and white to a landscape covered in shades of grey.

Is it so easy to villify Vito Corleone as he refuses to kill men who raped a mortician's daughter and instead insists upon "carrying out justice" by maiming them as they maimed the young lady? What about Michael Corleone as he seeks vengeance for his father's murder and to kill a corrupt cop and a drug-running mob boss in the process? What about Connor and Murphy MacManus as they kill a criminalistic and murderous mob boss?

The real question boils down to this: "Is it so easy to place absolute justice in one definitive category and disqualify vigilantes and those who feel that the system in place is falling short of justice, if not failing outright?" Can vigilanteism be so easily villified in a world where courts have allowed the OJ debacle and others like it to play out.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:49 PM | TrackBack

January 26, 2004


Throughout the course of my life, I have known few whom I trust with any details about my life and fewer still to whom I would even acknowledge that I had emotions, much less what they were. From a time early in my education, I was a cynic and deeply mistrusting of any efforts to ascertain who I was and how I thought.

Thus, it is with a clear head and a steady hand that I have allowed those whom I now gladly call 'friend' into my life and have allowed them to see a modicum of who I am. It is frequently difficult to overcome such instinctive fear of betrayal, skepticism of motives, and inability to trust... even in my interaction with my closest friends.

But it's nights like tonight where I come to understand that God didn't make us to live alone, as islands. When I can stand and pray with and for a close friend and truly empathize and feel the pain of another... this is a gift of God. When I can understand that I am His instrument and want to be used by him to heal another, even if it is at personal loss... this is a gift of God.

I feel so unspeakably blessed that God has seen fit to work through my cynicism and bitterness to allow me to by His instrument. That I might be entrusted with friends by God, this is truly an amazing thing.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:28 AM | TrackBack

January 21, 2004

Background, part 1

It's always at the dark watches of the night that I feel like starting these things out. I've been cranking on this for a combined hour or so throughout the day (thank you Wheeler for upping the ante and Anna for following suit.) As with Wheeler's, there is no way I'm going to get all of this into one post, so let's hope it makes sense as a part of a whole...

A proper understanding of my social interactions with others should find its start at the root causations and work its way to the present or, simply put, begin at the beginning. Granted, my memories from extreme early childhood are fragmented and incomplete, but I remember something of a conflicting dichotomy between my internal world and the external reality. Few people realize that I've had a very active imagination for a very long time... as I'm sure many do. Mine's just a bit odd reaching from way back.

At some point in this dichotomy, I began to acheive ridicule for my odd affectations due to my excited imagination. Upon becoming excited, I would do odd things like wiggle my fingers and toes. Granted, most of these behavioral tics were quickly unlearned, but I still caught a lot of grief and teasing from them. Combined with early abuse over my larger-than-average head and I began to realize that I was not like the rest of the world and learned of their cruelty.

There comes a point in every individual's life where he/she realizes uniqueness and a lack of total commonality in thinking. In my own life, I believe this occurence hit fairly early on, relatively speaking. My first real encounter with foreign thought processes was with my brother Geoff learning his letters. Myself, I never remember learning letters and I have it on good authority that this was early knowledge and that I always enjoyed this sort of thing. My middle brother, on the other hand, had them drilled to him the summer before he started kindergarten and believe me, he didn't appreciate his lessons one bit. It was then that I started to suspect that there were people who didn't love learning as much as I did.

During 2nd grade and even more in 3rd grade, the naivete really wore off. While I continued to be (at least in my own mind) friends with everyone, there were conflicts that occasionally arose in a manner that might be construed as serious. I mean, since time immemorial the noble boys had carried out the great Jihad against the feeble and gross girls, but besides that conflicts began to arise between those who felt that they were in some way intellectually superior.

It might be pertinent to point out that a lot of my arrogance dates back to this point in time, when I went to a pathetic excuse for a public school and was one of perhaps 5 kids in my grade who was really ahead of everyone else. And of course, being as that my natural inclination has always been learning and since at this time I was very driven to be the best, I tended to end up getting the top score on just about every test... and our teachers did me the ego assistance of noting the top score. So yes, I can be arrogant... but it has typically come from honestly knowing that I'm the best at something.

It was near this point in time (in 3rd grade or so) that I began to notice some traits in myself that I really didn't like. I had come to like to hear myself talk and I had affected this very sure tone of voice that implied that if someone thought I was wrong, he or she was clearly at error. I also noticed that I tended to get stressed out very easily over stupid little things and since the discipline for the poor behavior of others was frequently meted out upon the entire class, this stress frequently tied up my stomach in knots in an effort to control everything.

So, there you have it... by the ripe and developed age of the end of 3rd grade, I had developed a sort of intellectual arrogance and was very convinced that I was the smartest person of my age and was a better thinker than anyone else (my age) I knew. That, combined with an increasing reluctance to hear myself talk and an appreciation that the world of books was far more informative than my classmates drove me to introspection and isolation.

In hindsight, I had friends in the manner which 3rd-graders perceive friendship and was even fairly well-liked by these associates. Granted, by this time I had developed into quite an anomaly amongst my friends, but most of my hubris was internal and I tried to be an agreeable and helpful enough fellow. I had developed a good friendship with a boy named Tim who went to my church and we got along splendidly.

It was in much this manner I plodded through my 4th-grade year until about fall. I don't remember the day or even the month, but it seems like it was about fall when my father told me we were going to be moving to New York. I remember that we were on Miles road as it zigs and zags through the woods close to my along a creek bed and we were on our way home from Tim's house. And that, friends, is when the Cynic was conceieved, so to speak.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:42 PM | TrackBack

On Opinions...

Wheeler and I have been arguing at some length as to the value and purpose of opinions. He has contended that opinion is simply put, the realm of emotions and to introduce logic and reason moves to the realm of fact. I would counter by saying that simply because a statement is logical does not make it factual. The simple truth is that if good reasoning is based on faulty data, it is merely a misinformed opinion. That said, I would also contend that by making opinion merely the realm of emotionalism cheapens the opinions of those whose statements cannot necessarily be construed as factual, but who make good points and back said statements up with logical sense. For instance, there are those who feel as though the War in Iraq is justified or not justified and give reasons and logical conclusions to that end. Now, there is logic and reason present in arguments for both sides, yet these opinions cannot all be factual or else there would be paradox and defying reality. These opinions might be based upon facts and might be coloured by perspective and/or other factors that cannot be logically accounted for, but the simple fact remains that these opinions are not merely the whims of emotionalism that Wheeler seems intent to relegate them to.

As far as discussions on emotions go, I will continue to contend that emotionalism has no part in the discussion except to muddy the waters. Simply put, you must be able to back up your arguments with logic and reason or you are simply talking in circles. It is one thing to acknowledge emotional factors, but quite another to hail them as the totality of opinions. To say that opinions may have emotional factors is aptly put; to say that they must be without reason cheapens them to whims.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:51 AM | TrackBack

January 20, 2004

On Friendship

Wilson and Ardith started this monster... I'm just responding to them.

Many friends of mine are known to resist interaction on a purely superficial level in the interest of not having a superficial friendships. I guess I have no qualms about this because those who interact on a superficial level tend to have no illusions about what their interaction represents and are largely willing to exist as acquaintances until such point as some closer interaction would be mutually beneficial.

On that same branch, however, I am a flawed and inferior breed of politician/businessman in that there are people whom I cannot stand. Maybe it's that they display personality flaws that I dispised in myself when I was younger, or maybe it's just that they rub me the wrong way... but there are certain people in whose presence I cannot abide. I will either vanish or, if that is impossible, become very caustic and acerbic in hopes of driving the offending party away. It's typically not a matter of elitism, simply that I can't stand some people.

When it comes right down to it, I would probably surmise that I dislike more people than I am disliked by. Granted, there is a certain stigma that comes with wearing a giant black cloak and another that comes with being openly critical of the LU administration, but all in all I would surmise that I am generally well-accepted by those whom I care for. In the end, the count reads that way mostly because I want it to... and I can probably tolerate that. I keep away those I can't stand and am disliked largely by those with whom I'd rather not associate and if that's elitism, I'm quite pleased to be an elitist.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:26 AM | TrackBack

January 13, 2004

New Beginnings

I have this nasty tendancy to give up and accept whatever I can get on little or no effort. It comes back and haunts me all of the time: grades, friends, my relationship with God... it all comes back and reminds me of what a slacker I am. Now I'm at the beginning of a second semester, and I'm praying that I can pull this all together and do things to God's glory, rather than to my expedience.

I guess when it comes down to it, it's always been so much easier to do a little bit of work and just get by than to commit myself to excellence. After all, "good enough" is fine by me. In the end, it's a matter of not being satisfied with the bare minimum and trying to live up to a heavenly standard of perfection.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:01 PM | TrackBack

January 12, 2004


Objectivity is a hoax. Reality is viewed from the perspective of the viewer, and experience taints that perspective. Indeed, in order to have a truly objective perspective, one would either have to have a complete saturation of perspective or an absence of perspective: that is to say, you would either have to know nothing, or know everything.

Take today, today has been a relatively decent day. I got to spend time with my friends, I had free time, I have no deadlines hanging over my head, and my girlfriend is in town with me. Yet there are some down-sides and negative news that make it not the greatest day. The problem is that the last 3 days have been some of the best days I've had in quite some time. Thus, from a comparative angle, today was a pretty down day. (I suspect) From a purely objective perspective, today would be a good day, and definitely par for the course, at worst. Yet because of my skewed perspective, today seemed a bit depressing. Funny how that works out.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:53 PM | TrackBack

December 18, 2003

I am the Anti-Grinch

Amazingly enough, I am much more prolific when I have time on my hands with which to write. Isn't that just shocking?

Today my dad and I went and got a Christmas Tree. Apparently things have been fairly busy around here and when you combine that with the fact that my father isn't really all that into Christmas, you get to be about a week before Christmas and without a tree. My mom and I are quite into Christmas, but up until Tuesday I was in Texas and she is doing ESL tutoring and thus isn't available during the day. So, all that to say is the Christmasy types were busy, and the Grinch wasn't inclined to get one. My brothers? Lazy and too busy doing other things.

The whole Christmas season just gets me sentimental. Don't ask why, I don't know. It's just been that way since I was little. I like doing the whole traditional stuff and getting ready for Christmas and decorating and opening up another door on the advent calendar every day and lighting advent candles and the whole nine yards. I guess it's just that my family (dad especially) doesn't really get into that sort of thing. And when you get into a habit of not liking to do much in the way of Christmas, you just don't.

I guess that's just my whining about wanting to enjoy Christmas more than anyone else around me here. And of course, it doesn't make things better that the Christmas season at LeTourneau sets in right at the most hellacious part of the year and thus I really don't have time to enjoy it there. Christmas decorations? Yeah right. Note to self: enjoy Christmas more when you're off on your own.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:49 AM

December 15, 2003

At the Brink of Misery...

And now, we are finally at the end of the semester. In fact, we're at the holding period wherein I wish I could just be going home and everything would be right... but it's not.

In the end I really try to believe that God is working this all out for good, but it's so damned hard to see that from in the trenches. Nearly, all of my friends have gone home, leaving me nearly alone in this dorm. I stayed over because I went to a wedding with Anna today that was supposed to have signalled the real beginning of my break and the start of a nice and enjoyable 4-week break together. Sadly, this is not how things are working out.

Said aforementioned girlfriend has fallen victim to mono. As such, it has necessitated a change of plans and is sending her home to Colorado whereas I am still going home to Ohio. So, instead of the nice, enjoyable 3 weeks at Christmas with Anna... I have 3 weeks of wishing I could be with my sick girlfriend who will be 1000 miles away. I'm trying to put a positive spin on this, but it sound hollow and trite.

The fact of the matter is that I've always seen people who try and see the silver lining on the stormclouds as morons. Can't you see that things suck? What's the point in contenting yourself with the paltry pittance that is all you have to be happy about?

But in the midst of all of this, I have to admit that there just really isn't much point obsessing over the abysmal facts of reality. Yes, it really sucks... I know it, you know it, we all know it. But in the end there are only two real options, get over it or don't. And since I plan on getting over it sooner or later, I might as well just get over it now. Granted, the next 3 weeks are going to be misery, but I'm going to make the most of the time I have left here in Longview and I'm going to try and enjoy the company of my friends as much as is possible.

That said, I'm having a really hard time getting over it and moving on. I can stop obsessing... but I'm having a really hard time trying to stop feeling like crap. And this, ladies and gents, is why I had exiled my emotions to Tahiti. They bothered me a hell of a lot less there.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:50 PM

November 28, 2003

The Bandits Who Were

Well... one day down and I'm feeling much more rested. Maybe with a couple more of these I'll be able to take out the rest of the semester.

Whenever I walk down the empty hall of 1B when everyone is out of town, I get a bit reminiscent and philosophical about all of the guys who have come through on my watch. So here's to the few who made it, and the many that didn't.

Here's to Hex: the man who IRC'ed, played D&D and video-gamed and never really made it to much class or bed.
Here's to Pooder: the man who wished he was Canadian.
Here's to Hog: the man who played DAOC so hard he woke up on his keyboard more than once.
Here's to Kass: the quiet man who the system screwed and made it out anyways.
Here's to Woobadoo: the most disturbed guy to ever wander the floor and the worst influence on Gecko yet.
Here's to Ivan: the man who got asked out by Saga Troll Lady's daughter and run off by his roommate.
Here's to Tim: the man who married a girl from ETBU.
Here's to Ronnie: the man who could be counted on to roll in on Sunday as we rolled out for church.
Here's to Gary: the man whose room stank up the entire hall when his door was opened.
Here's to Groody: the man who escaped into the worst job market ever and got stuck in Longview.
Here's to YourMom: the man who left us those wonderful Senate pictures.
Here's to Randrew: the man who got out, got hitched, lived on campus another year, and is still sticking
Here's to Aaron: the RA whose soul couldn't be saved with only 37 chapels.
Here's to Micah: the man who dealt with Gary, ate the cats, and then got called elsewhere to the military.
Here's to Baba: the man who attempted 12 hours, and probably didn't even go to class 12 times.
Here's to Tom: my unofficial roommate in Fall '02 who had moved off campus but still showered on 1B.
Here's to Odom: the man who asked for programming help at 2am for a program due in 6 hours.
Here's to Doc: the man who Damian and I single-handedly traumatized more than is decent.
Here's to the Kormex: the man who played the video games, got great grades in EE classes, and promises to return next year.
Here's to Cowboy: the man whose listening ear and wise wit kept me sane through POD.
Here's to Singer: the man who captained the soccer team and left lusting after the championship we never got.

Wow: that's a lot. That doesn't count Dave and Luke, who pledged my freshman year. 21 guys who left the floor. Out of those, 5 graduated. Baba gets the award for closest to graduating with 9 hours shy on dropout. Hex gets the award for the guy who was here with me the shortest period of time, Ivan was he biggest recluse, and Pooder and Woob have to tie for the oddest.

I miss those guys...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:18 AM

November 15, 2003

The Spectre of Death

The spectre of death seems uncomfortably close of late. I just got off talking to my brother and apparently he and some guys went rock climbing yesterday and one of they guys he went with fell to his death. This is coming close on the heels of a wonderful conversation I had with a friend discussing what she would do if the choice came down to either she died or a baby she was going to have died.

You see, I've never really had any real fear of dying myself. I mean, sure, it would suck... but I guess my faith in where I am eternally doesn't let me get really bothered about that. But losing friends, that's the thing that scares me. When Bekah died the summer between Freshman and Sophomore year, it was like a piece of me got ripped out. I knew her for less than a year, and yet she was a close friend and losing her hurt... a lot. I can't even imagine what losing some really close friend or family member would be like.

I guess it just all boils down to this: do I have the faith to get through something like that. I pray that if God would put me in that sort of situation that He would also bless me with the faith necessary to get through it... and at the same time pray that nothing like that comes any time soon. Because I'm not so sure I have that much faith.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 07:43 AM

November 14, 2003

On Compassion...

On Compassion:

Or more functionally, how I'm not. You see, I understand how I don't deserve grace or mercy and how even trying the hardest that I've ever tried, I'm still no good by a perfect standard. But yet, I have a very hard time helping those who quite obviously don't want to help themselves. It all boils down to this: if you don't want to change and better yourself, I don't want you to either. Some people see how much others really want to be different... I see how much they could be doing to enact that change and aren't. Yes, it's judgemental... but that's how I think.

The same is true with quiet people and ideas. If you want to register on my radar screen (oooh.... RADAR) you're going to have to think that your idea is worth my hearing. I'm sure as hell not going to go fishing around for it. Basically it boils down to this: I respect the people who have the spine to tell me what's up. I really don't respect the people who have something that they know is important but can't pull it together. I just hope it's not something that I desperately needed to hear... because the fact of the matter is that I'm not going to go asking everyone for their stupid ideas just so I can hear one good idea every 3 months that I wouldn't have heard otherwise.

Here's the biggest problem: I don't know what to do about this. I mean, sure, we are supposed to be compassionate. But I am also a fairly firm believer in the Ben Franklin concept of "God Helps Those Who Help Themselves," though in my case it's more of a Andrew Carnegie approach to compassion in that I will help someone, but only after they're proving that they really want it by working
themselves and are willing to meet me part way. And sometimes (especially around here) I see too many people willing to give indescriminately without even thinking about what's going on on the receiving end. While I believe in compassion, I equally believe in hard work and determination. And I have a hard time justifying the former without the latter.

Someone toss me a bone and help me clarify this train of thought.

Disturbed Link of the Day: Dude Sues NASA For "Parking Fees" (clean, work-safe, wench-friendly)

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:38 AM

November 12, 2003


Oddly enough, for the first time in a long time I've had two decent ideas in the course of two days. Something in the water, of that there is no doubt...

On the topic of denominationalism, is there a justification for different denominations who break fellowship with one another over seemingly-trivial matters? How about the ecumenical movement which seems to be attempting to deepen bonds between churches who have deep-seated theological misgivings about one another, not to mention centuries of bad blood and often violence? What is a good reason to break fellowship, what should the relationship be between these churches, and what is the significance of these divisions?

My personal answer is that there are essentially two reasons for breaking fellowship within the Church:
1) Others are preaching a gospel other than the one preached in the Bible (For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear {this} beautifully. 2 Cor 11:4 [NASB])
2) Others adopt a doctrine that is contrary to clear Biblical teachings and/or amount to sin

Whether or not other denominations are bad enough to be declared outside of the Faith is really not something that I think anyone can make and I firmly believe that there are those who come to a saving Faith in Christ in any number of places, some quite outside of the Church as we understand it. Even so, the prevailing argument that I appeal to here is that continued fellowship with a sect who meets one of the two above criterion damages your own witness and may cause legitimate Christians to stumble.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:45 AM

November 10, 2003

On Education...

A couple of us were having a rather interesting discussion on education last night. I'm not sure how it came up exactly... but it boils down to this: "If you had your whole education to do over again and money and acceptance weren't issues, where would you go to school (starting at kindergarten through present?)"

Personally, I know where I would start and that's walking away from public schools. Not that I didn't learn a good bit in public school and I did have a couple of spectacular teachers... but the fact of the matter is that easily 8-10 years of my primary and secondary schooling were wasted in classes where the teacher either couldn't teach or was simply teaching to the bottom of the class. Especially for those of you who did at least some of the public school thing, just stop and think about it: how much of your time in school were you bored because your teachers either were re-hashing stuff that had been gone over 3 times before or were teaching down to the point that you could have sworn there were retarded monkeys in the class with you? Is it like this in private schools as well?

My current theory is that I know I would have opted for a very rigorous private school at least through 8th grade. After all, as much as I would have liked home-schooling, the social development is a must and is quite frequently one of the most neglected things in home-schooled students that I have met. Beyond that I'm torn between more private schooling and boarding school. After all, as much as the former helps, the latter adds the maturity that being responsible for yourself away from parental guidance brings, the social development of living around your peers all of the time, and the academic rigor of living at school. There is of course the painful separation from family and the lack of relationship with one's parents this brings... but boarding school needn't be so far from home to prevent monthly visits and the months of holidays, of course. Having it to do over again, I would probably go boarding school. Of course, there is the whole matter of college left to discussion, but we'll tackle that some other time. For now, just roll that over and respond.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot:

Disturbed Link of the Day: Making Your Job More Bearable

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:56 AM

November 09, 2003

Saving the Innocent LUsers

Should I be inclined to help people realize the foolishness of their own preconceptions or should I merely stand by and help propogate those preconceptions for their own good? For instance, what if some of the freshmen guys under my watch have been convinced that all LU wenches are heartless emotion-whores who prey on naive guys... should I tell stories and joked to perpetuate this or should I point out that a good number aren't?

I would be inclined to propogate the myth. After all, there are a disproportionately large number of wenches around here who are nothing but bad news... especially to the sheltered home-school variety freshman male that is so prevalent around here. Further, an even larger number of those wenches that these sheltered frosh will see will be of the problematic and predatory variety. So should I attempt to illuminate them to the truth and in the process dispel the unnatural and useful cynicism that such a sterotype brings? Hardly. The fact of the matter is that if the frosh aren't sharp enough to figure out that stereotypes are merely generalizations and not universally applicable, they probably aren't wise enough to deal with the LeTourneau brand of heartless wench nor capable enough to even manage a friendship with an amicable one.

I am not here to teach social skills, I am merely looking to prevent emotional episodes in the parts of the world that I frequent... because let's face it: relationships get messy and I don't want to have to walk through the aftermath. If only the cynics are out there dealing with the female populace of LU, we're going to have a lot fewer episodes and thus, my life is easier and more tolerable. Plus, it's a lot less visually offensive to have fewer freshmen making out on every bench in sight.

Oh, and just in case you'd been missing them:

Disturbed Link of the Day: Worst Jobs Ever

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:11 AM

October 19, 2003

My life's philosophy

Arguably the pivoting point of my entire philosophy and
eschatology and everything that I am, summed up right here.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:40 AM

October 12, 2003

Writing During The Semester...

You know, on one hand it is really great to be back at school and be able to grind out all of the good conversation that I missed out on over the summer, but on the other hand, the writing of the combined LU Blogdom has taken a marked turn for the worse since the beginning of the school year. We all write much better when we don't have homework and friends sapping our time and brainpower.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:38 AM

October 09, 2003

The Collective Attention Span...

This kind of came to mind because of what Randy put up...

Did you know that quite a few of the trees and structures on this campus are memorials to someone or another? Over this summer Sam and I were working Phys. Plant and got to clean out the basement of old Student Services... and we found several things that had been tossed off there. I seem to remember Sam even going over and running into Dr. Graff about a memorial plaque for one of the old MIR's here... but ask him about that.

Long story short, this institution has a criminally short attention span. To be fair, it is the nature of educational institutions to forget a lot... as a friend of mine put it, "if something hasn't been relevant in the last 2 years or is done for two years, for all that half the people on campus know that is the way that it's always been, and after 4 years only a handfull of people will remember beyond the common memory." Of course, this shouldn't be true at LU. Unfortunately, it is the habit of this place that we are so busy looking ahead that we hardly have a grasp on where we are, much less where we've been. Again, the typical myopia of a University... but that's not an excuse.

I just think of a really good friend I've lost and how many others this school has seen have their time cut short, and I wonder if anything would be different if we tried a little harder to remember. I wish we were more concerned about their memories than about the newest attempt to put screws in some old man for his money to build a new hunk of concrete on campus...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:21 AM

October 07, 2003

Got Oil, Need Well!

Have you ever tried to write something and you get part way and you know it's in your head somewhere, but you just can't make it go to words. Or tried to get a picture out on paper and it just won't do what it's supposed to do. The problem is that I'm trying to get it to come out but I can't even figure out what it is.

It's like somewhere in there in my head, there's a big underground oil well or something. And every time I go drilling for it, I miss. Sometimes I miss badly and come up with nothing, and sometimes I miss with a glancing blow and manage to get a couple of barrels. But no matter how many times I go after it, I never manage to get near that oil reserve. Somewhere in there, there's a story, or a program, or a painting, or a revolution, or something. I'm not sure what it is, but I can feel it in there but for the life of me, I can't get at it. Anyone got a muse for sale?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:49 PM

October 05, 2003

Morgan and Parents Come to LU

Morgan and her parents came out. And we met them and they met us... and then a lot of us went to IHOP. Nothing really profound except, in the words of Morgan's dad, that blogging is a lot like pergo laminate flooring. For those late adopters, they need to see how things play out before they get in. It was definitely interesting talking to him. Probably moreso than any of the other conversation I had this evening. No offense to everyone else... I was quite pleased to see the turnout, but one of my biggest passions in life is interacting and relating with people and nothing intrigues me more than interacting with someone and trying to find some commonality in which we can relate. Morgan and Julie already have commonality with this ragtag bunch... but I didn't know Jim and he had more or less avoided the LU Blogosphere and thusly I had to do more work in relating to him.

And now comes some puzzling out and around. I've gotten several underhanded comments about my language of late. Nothing overt, nothing condemning, just a little comment here and a little comment there. And it occurred to me that at someone point or another, it had become a crutch. I, the arrogant man of thesaurus, had slipped to using 5 or 6 words to frequently express myself. Not that these words don't have a place in the language within certain context and that their superlative meaning has been lost on me. But I really need to introduce enough variety that each word retains its unique flair and thus when I call someone an ignoramus, a moron, or an idiot, they mean something different than when I refer to someone as a walking experiment on the human condition post-lobotomy or when I call someone a fucking moron, it really takes the cake. That's the inherent problem with humanity right there, familiarity dulls the inherent art of living. If I were to use the same words all the time, even if they were the best words to describe something and perfectly good words, they would eventually lose meaning. That's why we need so much variety and synonymous syntax: so that people continue to appreciate the profundity of what we're saying.

Anyways, all that to say is that I came, I saw and I've returned... and the LU weapons policy is still among the most empty-headed, rash and irrational things that one could have puzzled out to keep students safe. They would be better off wasting their time and resources on putting up armed guards and razor-wire, because there's no way in hell that students are a bigger threat to other students than the social denigrates of South Longview.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:24 AM

August 21, 2003

Naturally Critical?

Are you naturally a critic or proponent? Do you tend towards this position with a deal of care and consideration, or is it just something that you'll do blindly?

Myself, I tend towards criticism. I would like to think that it's not a blind criticism, but from my angle it's really hard to say. Then again, I think it's a good deal easier to be intellectually honest and still blindly critical of things. After all, you may fail to see the big picture, but you'll always be able to spot the errors, insignificant or overwhelming. On the other hand, if you're a perpetual proponent, you'll be backing the Titanic as it sinks into the water and praising its great design and wonderful craftsmanship. You'll be right, but you'll tend to be guilty of ignoring the faults in order to see the bright side of life. The reverse is also true I suppose, but I guess I tend to be like my father in assuming that there will always be someone to see the bright side of most things. On the other hand, while there is rarely a dearth of people looking for problems, there will always be that fundamental design flaw that it takes the 300th observer to miss.

I guess what I'm saying in the end is that you really shouldn't be blindly critical or blindly supportive, but it really does help if you keep an eye open for problems. After all, the upside will usually be obvious enough that it'll knock you on your ass and it'll be the problems that are a bit more subtle. Unless it's a failed endeavor, at which point there's not much point looking at the bright side now is there?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:09 AM

August 05, 2003

Episcopalians in Trouble

This news just goes to show how far much of the modern Church has come from Christ. For a denomination to be willing to admit a openly gay minister as a bishop is to indicate that they have fallen away from the Gospel of Christ and are merely going through the motions. Sadly, they still refer to themselves as Christians while they slander His name with their moral filth and a refusal to reconcile their religion with the teachings of Him whom they claim to follow.

I think our Episcopalian brothers are in need of much prayer right now. Only God can make this one right...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:50 AM

August 04, 2003

On Relationships...

Reading Jonathan's and David's blogs of late has inspired me to do the whole "take on my own friendships/relationships" bit. Here's the thing: I may appear extroverted and easy to get to know, but really I'm not. Oh sure, I love being around people and am very outgoing, but when it gets right down to it, the observant few start to notice that you may hang around me for months and hardly know me at all beyond what I let people know of me.

I often proudly display my philosophy of cynicism to the world around me. I preach it and attempt to proselytize others with fervant lectures on the evils of humanity and the supreme depravity of the people one knows. After all, how can you trust anyone else when you know that you can't be trusted yourself? And thus, my relationships progress. Sure, I have a lot of people who I know and even know a fair bit about... but few know me as anything other than that funny cloaked who hates happy people.

When it gets right down to it... it might be because I don't trust people... and then there's the part that I might not wnat people to trust me. Think about it, in an honest friendship with someone, when they trust you, you become responsible to uphold that trust. Now granted, this is nearly always a reciprocated thing... but upholding a trust is a fairly serious thing. And guaranteed, sooner or later you will break that trust. You are a sinful, flawed, depraved human and you will let friends down and they will let you down.

Can you deal with this? I don't know if I can or not some days.

Here's a passage on trust that I thought might be pertinent...

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been
among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 14:1-14 (NIV)

Disturbed Link of the Day: Twisted Poetry (thank Moore for this... not me)

Days Until I'm Gone Again: 2
Days of Living in a Shitty Apartment: 36
Days Until Summer is Over: 19
Days Since it Last Rained : ??

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:16 AM

July 30, 2003

Could I pull the trigger?

Could I pull the trigger? Hell yes. To kill? Without question. The first shot might be to maim if I think I can pull it off, but that would only be to make sure I'm not killing a friend or family member. After I verify that, the second bullet is going in. I don't believe in leaving live enemies behind to return to bother me at a later date. A cruel philosophy to be sure, but let's remember who pointed the gun at who first. Don't start something you're not willing to finish.

When would I pull the trigger? Endanger friends, family, loved ones, or maybe even just innocent people. Not sure on that last one, considering that I'm a private citizen and I really don't want to be getting involved in something that is going to get me potentially shot at by the police. But failing that, I think I'd be willing to kill someone to save innocents. Is there a slippery slope involved? Perhaps. Am I making a judgment call as to who lives and dies? Yes. Am I comfortable making this decision? About someone who is trying to kill my friends and family? Definitely. About someone who is trying to kill innocent people? Probably. Will I flinch before I pull the trigger? No... I'll leave the sorting things out to after I am out of potential danger.

Any takers care to take exception to my philosophy? Leave a message after the beep.

Disturbed Link of the Day: Best Tract Ever! (thanks Shem and Damian)

Days Until I'm Back at School: 2
Days of Living in a Shitty Apartment: 34 and holding
Days Until Summer is Over: 24
Days Since it Last Rained : who cares?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:07 AM

Could YOU Pull the Trigger?

Among the more random thoughts that I've had the chance to ponder again this week is this question, "Could you pull the trigger?"

Context? Alright... it's not really essential, but ok. Suppose some nut has a gun pointed at you and you have reason to believe that he'll shoot you if you don't do something... you have a gun pointed at him or have access to a gun and a quick enough draw that you know (or at least strongly suspect) that you could shoot first, would you? Could you?

Some people tell me that they couldn't do it for themselves but they could for a friend, loved one or child. Others say they'd have to think about it or that it would require getting over a lot of emotions. Some people initially say "sure" and then end up following it up with a lot of conditions that would have to be
satisfied before they could do such a thing.

It's a fun question to think about in my mind simply because it's a fairly good indicator of how you respond to extreme situations and how you relate to others. Is it allowable to kill to save a life? Are you allowed to make such a decision? Could you make a decision to kill if given the means and the need?

And another fun question... what do you think my take on this is?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:49 AM

July 23, 2003


Just before I go to bed I have a little bit of musing. Is it easier to be motivated when there is a strong emotion driving you? I know that in recent memory the only times I was ever motivated for much is when a bit of anger started driving at me. I wonder if it's the same for other emotions...

I'm starting to suspect that it is... any thoughts from those of you with real motivation?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:46 AM

July 22, 2003

Seize the Carp!

Well... I'm up and I finally have some sleep and hopefully that means I'm going to be able to more peacefully and clear-headedly interact with my world. I guess it's time to "Carpe the diem! Seize the carp!" - Out Cold

As soon as the stupor of sleep wears off, I will try and post a coherant thought or two. This will probably be after going clothing shopping (an activity which I loathe) so bear that in mind. I might have decided that this exercise in fueling my Chauvinism along with an interaction with the general public is a case-study justification in the euthanizing of most high school girls. Or maybe not... time will tell.

Random thought of the moment: If the saying "no brain, no headache" is true, why do women get headaches?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:19 AM

July 21, 2003

Ethics vs. Scruples

Several of my friends and I were having an interesting conversation about situational ethics. Namely, what is the basis for an ethical standard? Now, for a Christian this sounds like a fairly straightforward Sunday School answer: "the Bible." But think about it, is it that you do what you should do based strictly on a biblical standard and if so, is it just based on the spirit of the Word or on Levitical law? Take the question a step further: assume that a perfectly legitimate activity (ethically) is made against the law by the government that you live under... do you follow the law or continue on as you have? What happens when it's something like handgun ownership where you feel that it would be wiser to keep the gun if it weren't against the law?

Personally, at least in the past I was very rarely driven by ethics or "moral standards" but rather by my own standards which I referred to scruples. The basic difference in my lingo is this: ethics are based on an absolute external standard and scruples are merely actions taken in order to keep one from getting into trouble. Put simply, my scruples are intended to keep me out of jail and from getting arrested while ethics are to keep a level of moral decency. Currently, scruples take a back burner to ethics because many of my scruples are simply watered-down attempts at ethics that don't hamper my life as much.

A simple contrast of ethics and scruples. Ethics say don't lie and if one digs, one could even come up with a reasoning behind this imperative rooted in not deceiving and hurting others that resolves to the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) On the other hand, scruples say don't lie when you don't have to and if you have to, be good enough to not get caught. This scruple is based on life experience that the more you lie, the harder it is to keep the truth straight in your own head and the easier it is to have the whole damned house of cards come collapsing down around you. If it were expedient, scruples would have no problem with lying to everyone all of the time so long as one wasn't caught.

Of late I have come to this conclusion: ethics have a place and a reason otherwise our benevolent and omniscient God wouldn't have created His ultimate standard of perfection. A proper understanding of the character of God (probably the reason that it took so long for me) causes one to quickly come to this conclusion and thusly understand that in the end a failure to uphold this standard will result in hurting oneself or someone else. Of course, if one cares nothing for others or God ethics are largely pointless... therein the great gap between theists and everyone else. If the end all and be all is merely self, what reason for empathy or sympathy? Altruism is an idiotic farce by this standard and the only law of the land is to perpetuate self and continue living a good life. Scruples promote this and ethics merely get in the way... and thus you understand the existance and place of both sets of standards.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:30 PM

July 20, 2003

My Policy on Idiots...

Incidentally, I am working on my policy on idiots so leave a comment if you have an idea. Right now I'm trying to determine if idiots are more of a product of their environment or their genetics and if the former, how to prevent idiots from raising idiot children (until I have the means of disposing of adult idiots.)

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:50 AM

July 07, 2003

Kill One to Save Many...

Sitting here and thinking about watching Trigun like I have incessantly of late, the great Machiavellian question of the greatest good comes up. But Trigun stands that question on its head and perverts it a bit. Rather than, "kill one innocent for the good of many" it's "take one life to save those of many." The sad thing is that the initial stance of the series completely fails to take into account the circumstances involved and the guilt of the life in question.

For instance, if there is a trained assassin who will kill anyone who gets between him and his target, this individual is obviously a liability. Rather than allowing multiple people to die at his hands, his life should be forfeit. Granted, given enough time you can incapacitate him so that he cannot kill anymore, but the odds are good that in that time, he will kill more innocents. I would kill him the first chance I got, before he had a chance to do his worst.

Is this playing God? Probably. On the other hand, the question of the ends justifying the means is typically a thorny one. However, when given circumstances that are this easy to rectify and the means is killing a murderer to justify an end result of saving countless lives, this just isn't a rough decision. At least, not in my pragmatic and Machiavellian mind.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:37 AM

Stalkers are My Friends

It strikes me that it's been a while since I've linked up a comic. And this one seems to be about right.

The scariest thing about this is that I have more friends like Mike than I care to admit. Granted, I would have killed Kharisma (or given her advise to step out in front of a car) years ago, but I would probably also encourage Mike to keep stalking her. I guess I'm just a cruel individual who would take a stalker for a friend over a self-absorbed (albeit good-looking) wench any day.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:07 AM

July 06, 2003

Emotional Self-Defense

Yay for another pseudo-intellectual blog post... if you don't like these, cease reading now.

I am always slightly amused by the variations in my own personality when it comes to interacting with people. I am fond of quoting sayings such as "nice guys finish last" and breaking out my own cynical and chauvinist rhetoric. This veneer along with the well-practiced routine of quips and wise-cracks tends to stay up throughout about 95% of my interactions with the outside world.

Sooner or later, some people hang around me to the point where they realize that the veneer isn't as solid as it appears at first glance and there really is a depth hidden behind the iron-clad veneer. Depending on how trustworthy an individual is deemed, they manage to see beyond the initial barrage of sarcasm and smartass remarks to at least some well thought-out sarcastic insights. This is where nearly all of the remaining 5% lives.

Finally, there is a remaining 1% of people who know me very well. Somehow they've managed to get past the hard exterior and the seemingly vicious reactions to outsiders and see a bit into the real Cynic. I'm not sure how this happens, but it does from time to time. Oddly enough, one of the fastest ways to get there is to be in the middle of an emotional crisis in my presence. For all of my hard talk, I can't stand to see a friend in pain... especially if they start crying. Tears are my own personal kryptonite. While years may get someone into my trust, transparency and honesty in hardship are things that seem to bypass all of my cynicism and skepticism.

Granted, there are manipulative witches out there who could use this to their advantage and indeed have in the past. You'd be amazed at the quality acting that some wenches can pull off. But eventually, the truth will come out... and be wary of the vengeance of angry and betrayed men. If there was a case where I'd hit a female, this would be it. After all, there's a special place in hell for manipulative witches, and I'm sure it's full of rapists and pedophiles.

Anyways, I'm not sure what prompted all of that... maybe remembering my ex, the manipulative bitch and the hellish relationship that was started on the 4th between my Senior year in high school and my Freshman year here. All that to say is, well, um.... yeah....

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:25 AM

June 17, 2003

Be More Careful

Note: the following is only inspired by recent events and is in no way an attack on the perpetrators of said events against the author of this blog. This is intended to be more philosophical than narrative in nature.

The primary tenet of Cynicism is that you can't trust peoples' motives. Further, you can't trust people period. Think about it, from the least to the greatest, just about everyone has been let down or even stabbed in the back by someone they trusted. Even Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Granted, Jesus knew this was coming, but that's beside the point. The problem is that you can't trust imperfect people.

You can't trust yourself either, but at least that's more or less something that you manage to screw up on your own. The decisions of other people are more or less completely out of your hands. Thusly, the inherant mistrust of others on the part of the Cynic. He sees what he has done to others, he sees what his friends do to others and he is under no illusion that circumstances somehow uniquely favor him. In the end someone he trusts will betray him, but in order to keep the damage down to a bare minimum, he scrutinizes every motive and every action of every person who professes to treat him kindly.

And sometimes even the Cynics among us are lax and are brought down a few pegs. That's been the case with this Cynic in the past and will continue to be so until the end of time...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:43 PM

June 16, 2003

Don't Trust People

The new computer is up and running after a better part of two days of headaches. At least now, I can enjoy my gig of RAM, new spiffy case and all of that jazz. Now we can clean this apartment up and stuff.

Incidentally, apparently I made the mistake of the summer a week or so back by falling asleep in the John Thomas Lobby. Anna apparently took a picture involving myself, the Judge and a smiley face. The worst part is that as I was lying there tired, I SPECIFICALLY REMEMBER wondering if falling asleep was a good idea and glancing around and figuring that Anna and Gecko wouldn't let anyone screw with me while I was asleep. Gecko was asleep for most of the time, so I guess I can't fault him for most of what went on and he did retreive the stolen Judge.

I'm probably just making a big deal of nothing and I haven't seen the pictures myself, but it's one of those things that I rarely let my guard down as a cynic and now I feel like an idiot for doing so and am ashamed for not abiding by my own standards. If you're going to preach a philosophy, stick with it or you'll be mad at yourself when you don't. And that's the Cynic's lesson for the day.

Screwy Link of The Day: Toilet

Days of Living in a Shitty Apartment: 2
Days Until Summer is Over: 67

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:51 AM

June 12, 2003


Have you ever hated someone's presence? You just wish with every bone in your body that they would stand up and go away but they won't. I have a couple of those. I really just wish they would leave and never come back. Some have, most haven't and more come in every year.

I hope I'm not like that to anyone and am just oblivious to the fact that my presence is painful. I know that I pride myself in making sure that people that I hate being around have a strong negative vibe. I would hope that I'm not that oblivious if someone were to want me to get the hell away.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:06 AM

May 13, 2003

Don't Trust Them...

You know, there are some days when I wish I could be intellectually satisfied with being a Happy Person... it would make life so much easier. Instead, I got stuck with this working bit of pulp between my ears and the damnedest inclination to keep using the fool thing. What's worse, problems keep following me... problems which would go away with maddening ease if I just decided, "I'm going to be happy, screw what I see around me. Just happy, all the time, la-la-la!"

Sometimes I envy the ignorant happy people and their false sense of security. They think that the kung fu they learned in 3rd grade will save them from their problems and that false sense of security makes life ok.

But then I watch them as life's realities bring their bubbles crashing down and they don't know how to cope. I may have a lot of things wrong, but at least I know just how fucked up this world really is. My cynicism is based on the undeniable fact that people are fallen and depraved beings with no redemptive value to themselves. The only time my cynicism fails is when Christ intercedes. And you know what? I can deal with that. Because it happens only in that rare Christian or two amongst the teeming sea of reprobate jackasses. Here at LU, the only sure thing is that you can't trust that "Christian" label to make it all good. There are some legit people around here, but there are a whole lot of imitators and even the real Christians stumble.

So try and follow Jesus' lead, but don't expect it from anyone else. Expect them to act like the fallen sinners that they are, and when someone acts differently you'll be pleasantly suprised. That kind of suprise beats the sinking feeling in your stomach that goes along with that sharp burning sensation as the blade slips between the ribs and into your back.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:34 AM

May 09, 2003

Ah, The Written Word...

Ah, the dangers of the written word. What you write is indelibly preserved in a forum which is infinitely harder to revoke or alter than what you say. And the danger of being removed from the audience of that word is immense and lends itself to the tendancy towards superlative.

Do I think that the Yellow Jacket sucked last year? Definitely. Was it the worst writing that I'd ever seen? Probabaly not. Did I spout off a bit too much at it? Possibly. And are those words now perserved in an electronic format for anyone to see and be hurt by? That's the danger of writing right

Did I mean what I said? Hell yes. Could I have said it more tactfully? Probably. But right now I'm not sure if I care. Should I? Probably. Therein lies the joy of having a two-inch piece of blackened string comprise your soul...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:12 AM

April 20, 2003

On First Impressions...

The Cynic Will Exact Vengeance Upon: Critics of First Impressions

You know how when you meet someone and you just see them, your brain tells you things about them? Often-times it's something like "there's a disagreeable moron" or "watch out for her, there's trouble," and because you've been conditioned that there's more to someone than looks, you reserve judgement until you get to know them. And sometimes the conditioning is right and they really weren't anything like the moron they looked and your judgement was bad.

But more often than not, my first impressions have been dead-on lately and I've had to apologize to my subconscious because he was right. That creepy-looking guy really was an ignorant wretch, and every conversation I've had with him since has confirmed that he was every bit as arrogant and as wrong as my brain told me. Same goes for the wench who I knew would be bad news... the brain was reeling on that one and I ignored it. At least the first time I did myself the service of being right.

Then again, I'm a bit twisted and my subconscious has had a good bit of unconventional fine-tuning. For instance, I figued Shem would be a good friend and a personable guy from the moment I laid eyes on him... even with his three earrings and bleached hair. Same goes for Wilson... my brain just told me that I'd stumbled upon a kindred soul and it turns out that the ol' hamster that resides in my skull made a good call. That's not to say that I haven't been wrong with a couple of calls... but far more often than not (especially since I've gotten to college) I've been generally right and even dead-on a spooky number of times.

So all that to say is: don't judge a person at first glance and never bother to meet them, but be wary of casting aside a first impression if you know that you've been in a habit of making good insights about people. God gave us the subconscious for a reason and while it isn't perfect, it would be foolish not to at least pay attention to it.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:53 AM

March 20, 2003

People I Want to Talk With...

The Cynic Will Exact Vengeance Upon: People Who Don't Make Time to Talk

Isn't it funny how you have so many friends and acquiantances who you'd love to talk to more and just never get the chance? I ought to start a list... people I want to talk with for at least an hour. That would be cool, except that it would be kinda freaky to post it here and if I write it down on paper, I'll lose it.


Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:02 AM

February 14, 2003

On Satire and the Dangers Thereof

The Cynic Will Exact Vengeance Upon: People Who Can't Take Jokes

For those of you familiar with the LU Forums, you will note that there is a restricted HNRS2111: Contemporary Political Issues forum. In there, those of us in that particular class discuss a given political issue, changing by week, in conjection with the class and the book. Issues are usually good for discussion: ranging from direct democracy vs. republic to gun control to economic idealogy. It's a lot of fun for those who like politics and the forum has been of particular amusement to me.

I am a lover of satire in addition to being a cynic and have been known to employ it from time to time. At the beginning of the class, a couple of friends and I took up the idea that an armed coup could take over the US and make conditions so bad that a reform would return to a Constitutional government, ridden of the demons of apathy. The plan gets rather in-depth and in subsequent weeks it was expanded to include the topics we covered such as what to do with gun control and the specific working of the government's economy. The satire got old and worn-out, and so this week I saw the oppurtunity to develop a new parody. It went something like this:

"Being as that the Shadow Council more or less runs itself these days, I have decided that I will be pursuing other things in addition, so that I don't get slow or dull on my rhetoric.

The idea of returning to the halcyon days of yore when men ruled the land as they should and women held their tongues has always appealed to me. Recently, I have begun to explore the feasibility of making such a change and it occurred to me that even should I control the government in an autocracy, I would need something more. Just because women are relegated to their proper state as second-class citizens doesn't mean that they won't continue to stir up dissension and create problems for my regime.

And then, as is with all problems, the solution came to me. The control of all forms of media would be my tool. Primarily, the constant barrage of the news media and entertainment would reinforce my message of truth. Feminist literature and the like would be banned and burned. As a cautionary measure, women would be forbidden to read, but this would take some time to implement. In the meanwhile the state-run media would pervade all of life. I honestly don't think it would take much to return peoples' minds to the proper frame of reference with the use of that media...."

And then things got a little nuts. One person in particular took things so badly that she dragged her entire floor into it. And there was much talk of lynching me and the mob was very angsty. And so now, it would appear that my satire is going to get me in trouble... oh joy. When you read satire, or something that appears to be satire... check with the author before you kill him. Next time I'm just making a modest proposal...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:54 AM

February 08, 2003

Listening to Women is A Waste

It's officially Saturday and I have my quote of the week up. Stop by and get your MD sooner or later C-4, before I sell it.

The layout appears to be working... leave comments one way or the other. And if it's not configured for your display... deal. I like it to look good on mine more than I care about yours.

And finally, it would appear that my Chauvinist rhetoric is back in full swing. After all, it's now been confirmed that you can't read womens' minds... and you definitely can't tell what's on their minds simply by listening to what they're saying. So in short, either women aren't thinking when they're talking or it's just an elaborate conspiracy to talk without relaying anything important. Either way, it would appear that listening to women talking is an exercise in futility... at least that's what I'm gathering.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:05 AM

January 26, 2003

Ingenuity vs. Intelligence

I love how at LU we can have so many people who come to a University where we are supposed to be brimming with ingenuity and yet can't think for jack shit. At the risk of sounding trite, I'm going to go wander over to Webster Online and look it up so I'm not talking out of my ass...

Here we go, ingenuity is the noun form of the adjective ingenious. So, for the Engineers out there: if you are described as ingenious, you display ingenuity. That aside, here's a definition:

1 obsolete : showing or calling for intelligence, aptitude, or discernment
2 : marked by especial aptitude at discovering, inventing, or contriving
3 : marked by originality, resourcefulness, and cleverness in conception or execution (an ingenious contraption)

synonym see CLEVER

Aha! It makes so much more sense now. Ingenuity is no longer a marked intelligence, but just a marked ability at making things work. It makes so much more sense now, and I'd even be willing to bet that we're the one's that took the intelligence out of ingenuity. God bless LeTourneau, where we go to chapel because we have to (although to be fair, the quality isn't exactly begging for voluntary attendance), have our opinions given to us by our professors and peers, and we try to conform to the norm. Just last night as I was out and about, I was informed that my appearance scares people and that they stay away from me because of that. My response? "Good, I really don't want to be dealing with someone stupid enough to let that drive them away anyways." Is that the best response? Nah, I should probably try and be outgoing towards everyone so as to drive off the myopic social idiocy that runs rampant in this place, but the fact of the matter is that I don't have the time, energy, or impetus to go righting all of the wrongs around this place. Frankly, there are too many of them.

So... maybe we should go find us a better word than ingenuity. I'd go for intellectual ass-kicking sets us apart, but something tells me that the board wouldn't go for it. Other suggestions?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:40 AM

January 20, 2003

The Joys of MLK Day

Ah... the joys of a Monday where I can get up at 1 PM and not feel the least bit guilty about having missed classes. Isn't Martin Luther King Jr. Day great? Wait... we got a holiday off, what's up with that? No Veteran's Day, no Labor Day, but we DO get Martin Luther King Jr. Day off. Not to do the man any disrespect, but I should think that holidays commemorating everyone who has ever fought for this country and everyone who has worked hard to make this country great should carry a little bit more water than a holiday to commemorate a man who died getting a segment of the population more rights. And he didn't get them the right to vote, or the right to be citizens, and slavery was abolished almost 100 years previous to his attempts.

Is this to say that we should belittle Martin Luther King Jr? By no means. But I think this is another classic case of LeTourneau bowing to the pressure of being politically correct. After all, we were founded on a military hospital, we can get away with just paying a cursory nod to the US Veterans, right? And we all work, so we can just celebrate Labor Day amongst ourselves, right? But woe to ye who ignoreth Martin Luther King Jr. day for ye shall be hunted down and harried by Civil Rights Activists until the end of time. And so at LeTourneau we ignore our veterans and those who work to make this country great and we bow to the pressure of some unseen outside spectre that causes us to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. God bless LeTourneau... hopefully with a dose of some sense sometime soon.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:17 AM